After the reimbursement of part of the debts of the State of Cameroon, with a transfer of 45 billion FCFA, the energy specialist Eneo wants to see the future under better auspices. However, disputes with certain suppliers such as Tradex and more recently Gaz du Cameroun have yet to be resolved.
“ The sector has experienced difficulties in the past two years. But since the end of 2019, the government has decided to take the bull by the horns and tackle the resolution of the financial imbalance in the sector . ” This comment comes from the general management of Eneo. The concessionaire of the electricity distribution service in Cameroon reacts to a transfer of 45.7 billion FCFA received, several weeks ago, from the State via an undisclosed banking consortium.
“ As part of the consultations led by the Prime Minister, we must welcome the decision of the State of Cameroon to settle a first batch of certified invoices for a total amount of 45 billion FCFA by the issuance of assimilable Treasury bonds ( OTA) allowing the injection of fresh money into the sector ”, revealed the managing director of the company controlled by the British investment fund Actis (51% of the shares), Éric Mansuy, in an interview published on February 11, 2020 , by the online journal Energie Médias. Promise kept therefore.
As of December 31, 2019, the energy company estimated the amount of its cumulative claims at more than 180 billion FCFA (including 63 billion FCFA for public enterprises or with public capital only). After this payment, the general management of the electrician refuses to communicate the new stock of state debt, believing that the certification operation continues. “ The debt has evolved very positively, ” we agree to indicate. With “state support ”, ” positive ” progress has also been recorded in the arrears of public enterprises.
Return of confidence
Eneo has always relied on the large volume of its receivables to justify its large supplier debts. From 2018 to 2019, they increased from 171 billion to 150 billion FCFA. But this drop of 21 billion, over one year, was not enough to restore confidence in the sector. On the contrary, the electricity distributor was sued by Tradex, one of its fuel suppliers, for a debt estimated at FCFA 52.7 billion in November 2019. But the tension is reportedly decreasing.
According to the internal press release sanctioning the board of directors of Eneo, held on June 17 in Yaoundé, the 45.7 billion FCFA transferred by the state “ contributed to begin to restore confidence in the sector, because the sums thus raised were used to settle part of the debts of the big players in the sectors (Sonara, Globeleq Cameroon, SonatreL, EDC, etc.) ”. “ In addition, other operators have agreed to negotiate moratoriums or new deadlines for the settlement of their debts, ” adds the general management of Eneo.
“ Today, whether it is mainly with fuel suppliers or with energy suppliers like Kribi or Dibamba, we are rather in very constructive relations, as regards the problems of debt settlement. We are even in projects, always with the assistance of the government, where new operators wish to enter the sector and contract with Eneo. So, from our point of view, we have no problem with suppliers, ”says one within the top management of the concessionaire of the electricity service.
Cameroon gas case
But things are not as rosy. The proof: Gaz du Cameroun (GDC) announced, at the beginning of July 2020, the termination of its contract to supply natural gas to Eneo, through the Logbaba (30 MW) thermal power plant in Douala. The British subsidiary Victoria Oil & Gas (VOG) which claims, from the electrician, the clearance of a slate of 16 million dollars (more than 9 billion FCFA), even threatens to take legal action.
At Eneo we say we are surprised. Firstly because “ since September 2019, in reality, Gaz du Cameroun no longer produces for Eneo ”. Then, “ for several months already, Eneo has invited the Gaz du Cameroun teams to formalize the new contract which was to bind us. And Gaz du Cameroun then had to work with its production partner to obtain the licenses and authorizations to resume its activity, in accordance with government instructions . ”
Evoking unpaid debts accumulated by the energy company, the Saudi Altaaqa Alternative Solutions, which operates the Logbaba thermal power plant, stopped the machines on September 14, 2019. This immediately caused the disruption of fuel supply by GDC. At Eneo, they say they do not know what the more than 9 billion FCFA claimed by the VOG subsidiary correspond to. “ We have a partner who did not provide a service, who had obligations, but did not fulfill them and who claims money. We are wondering ourselves, ”reacts the top management of the electrician.
Source: Agence Ecofin