25 August 2009 – Before June 2010, methane gas in Lake Kivu, bordering Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be jointly exploited.
Funds for a feasibility study for gas extraction have been granted by the European Commission (EC) and the funds should be availed in two months to start the study, which may cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Meeting were recently held between Minister of State for Energy, Hon. Dr Albert Butare of Rwanda and Hon. Laurent Muzangisa, DRC Energy Minister, where they discussed specifically the joint venture that targets to generate 200 megawatts of energy from methane gas.
"We agreed that what is required to facilitate this project in the first place is to have a comprehensive study that entails three major components," Hon. Butare said.
The components include financing mechanisms; the technology to be used when extracting the gas from the lake and changing it into electrical power; and the environmental and social impact assessment of the project. "With those three components you have the project as a comprehensive package which anybody would be ready to come on board in terms of financing for implementation," he said.
The ministers are speeding up the project as requested by President Paul Kagame and President Joseph Kabila in their recent historic meeting held in Goma, eastern Congo.
When the study is completed, the ministers will again sit with donors – European Union, World Bank, AfDB, The Netherlands, US Embassy, and Belgian Cooperation – to discus financing for the project implementation.
Once the joint extraction is finalized, the two countries expect to boost power supply which is a key ingredient for economic development.
Rwanda will raise the current pick from 69MW to 169 MW once power from the joint venture is ready. Currently 6% of the total households in Rwanda have electricity but the target is to reach 16%.