Persistent power cuts force Germany to close visa service in Cameroon

The Federal Republic of Germany in Yaounde has closed its visa service indefinitely to visitors blaming the decision on chronic power cuts.

In a statement issued on May 8, 2024, the Embassy said the closure was to be effective from May 9, 2024.

The statement said applicants’ appointments will be automatically rescheduled once the visa section is operational again.

“You will be automatically informed of your new appointment when it is issued,” the Embassy said in the statement while urging applicants to check their e-mails at regular intervals.

“The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Yaoundé and the Federal Foreign Office Berlin apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for understanding.” Persistent blackouts

Cameroon has been grappling with persistent blackouts in recent years with industry stakeholders attributing the rampant power outages to a lack of transport and distribution infrastructure and high indebtedness of the power utility company, Energy of Cameroon, (ENEO).

The situation deteriorated since late last year especially in major cities like Douala and Yaounde. It forced ENEO to resort to electricity rationing to address the production deficit in the Southern Interconnected Network, which covers seven regions of the country – Center, South, Littoral, East, West, North West, and South West.

“The quantity of energy available for distribution is significantly limited due to a combination of inherent operational constraints in the system and production concerns,” ENEO said in a statement in January this year.

ENEO, highly indebted

The utility company did not give details on the operational constraints. However, ENEO has been grappling with debts and liquidity problems as major shareholder, investment fund Actis, plans to sell its stake to the government.

The CEO of ENEO, Amine Homman Ludiye, told journalists in February this year that besides FCFA 150 billion owed to financial institutions, the power distributor was indebted to independent producers by up to FCFA 360 billion.

He also said an unconsolidated amount of 266 billion CFA francs in unpaid bills as of last December had still not been cleared by the government and state-owned enterprises, making it difficult for the company to pay its service providers in the sector and make new investments, according to a Reuters report.

British private equity firm, Actis, has a 51% stake in ENEO, while the government of Cameroon owns 44% . Both stakeholders are discussing the sale of the fund’s stake to the government. The deal could be completed by the end of this year, according to Cameroon Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze.

It is hoped that service delivery will be improved when the deal is concluded.

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