Research article Special Issues

Community pico and micro hydropower for rural electrification: experiences from the mountain regions of Cameroon

  • Received: 28 November 2015 Accepted: 24 January 2016 Published: 02 February 2016
  • Less than 15% of rural areas of Cameroon have access to grid electricity. Only 53% of the population has access to grid electricity. Notwithstanding, Cameroon has a huge hydropower potential which could be harnessed. Mini grids, powered by pico and micro hydropower plants, are a relatively new rural electrification strategy in Cameroon. Several of such mini grids have been realized in the mountain regions of the country. Some of these systems have been more successful than others. This paper aims to share the experiences of community-based pico and micro hydropower schemes for rural electrification in Cameroon. The paper provides insight to the challenges that three of such mini grid systems powered by pico and micro hydropower plants had encountered and it attempts to identify issues related to their performances. The study was based on personal experience, field visits, participant observations, interviews and focus group discussions with key members of the beneficiary communities and documentations from the local NGO which implemented the schemes. Key findings of this study relate to the description of the main aspects about: planning of a robust system design, organizational aspects, like social cohesion at all levels of scheme management, community leadership and ownership of the system and involvement of the beneficiaries at all stages of the project cycle. These aspects were particularly addressed within the context of rural communities in Cameroon.

    Citation: Jerome Mungwe, Stefano Mandelli, Emanuela Colombo. Community pico and micro hydropower for rural electrification: experiences from the mountain regions of Cameroon[J]. AIMS Energy, 2016, 4(1): 190-205. doi: 10.3934/energy.2016.1.190

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  • Less than 15% of rural areas of Cameroon have access to grid electricity. Only 53% of the population has access to grid electricity. Notwithstanding, Cameroon has a huge hydropower potential which could be harnessed. Mini grids, powered by pico and micro hydropower plants, are a relatively new rural electrification strategy in Cameroon. Several of such mini grids have been realized in the mountain regions of the country. Some of these systems have been more successful than others. This paper aims to share the experiences of community-based pico and micro hydropower schemes for rural electrification in Cameroon. The paper provides insight to the challenges that three of such mini grid systems powered by pico and micro hydropower plants had encountered and it attempts to identify issues related to their performances. The study was based on personal experience, field visits, participant observations, interviews and focus group discussions with key members of the beneficiary communities and documentations from the local NGO which implemented the schemes. Key findings of this study relate to the description of the main aspects about: planning of a robust system design, organizational aspects, like social cohesion at all levels of scheme management, community leadership and ownership of the system and involvement of the beneficiaries at all stages of the project cycle. These aspects were particularly addressed within the context of rural communities in Cameroon.
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    © 2016 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)
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