The current electricity generation in Cameroon is quite low when compared to the global average. The total electricity consumption per person is around 34 watts, which is more than ten times less than the global average of 412 watts per person. This relatively low level of electricity consumption could hinder the country's social and economic growth. Looking at the type of energy consumed, Cameroon generates slightly more from low-carbon energy sources than fossil fuels. Low-carbon energy makes up approximately 21 watts per person, with nearly all of that coming from hydropower (almost 21 watts per person). Meanwhile, fossil-based energy constitutes close to 13 watts per person. Solar power generation is almost negligible, making up only 0.08 watts per person. Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of the country's electricity consumption, about 0.25%, is made up of net imports.
To increase low-carbon electricity generation, Cameroon could draw inspiration from nations that have successfully leveraged various green energy types, more specifically, nuclear, wind, and solar. Given Cameroon's potential access to uranium resources, exploring nuclear power as a clean energy alternative might be beneficial, despite the technology and infrastructure challenges that it would pose. Countries like Sweden, France, Finland, and Belgium have each been able to generate more than 400 watts per person through nuclear energy, thus dramatically increasing their overall low-carbon energy output. In addition, wind and solar power have proven to be effective in nations with climates and geographies similar to Cameroon. Denmark, for instance, generates 369 watts per person through wind energy, while solar power in Australia generates 147 watts per person.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Cameroon is primarily defined by hydropower. It has consistently been the main force in Cameroon's journey towards cleaner energy since the 1980s. From the early 1980s through to the end of the 20th century, there were generally small incremental increases in hydropower generation. The early 2000s saw some fluctuations, including a slight drop in 2002, but this was quickly turned around by 2004. In 2006, biofuels briefly entered the energy scene contributing 0.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. However, it was promptly displaced, and hydropower fuelled Cameroon's green energy sector again. Notably, in 2017, there was a significant surge in hydropower electricity generation with an increase of 0.7 TWh, one of the largest seen in the country's history. However, this trend hasn't been consistent, as evidenced by a minor decline in 2021. Nonetheless, the long-standing reliability of hydropower as a low-carbon energy source has formed the backbone of Cameroon's electricity generation.