Officials from Rwanda and DR Congo have said it is time to end ‘mere talk’ and start concrete action on a joint exploitation of methane gas deposits in Lake Kivu, with an aim of producing energy for the people of both countries.
Officials of Rwanda & DR Congo in a meeting in Goma - DRC
The agreement for joint exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu dates back to 1975 when the two countries committed to work together to generate energy from the lake, but 40 years later, there is no tangible impact.
While the lake presents the potential of generating over 700 megawatts of methane gas, according to studies, only 26 megawatts have been extracted through the Kivuwatt project on the Rwandan side.
On 12th August 2016, President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila, met in Rubavu, Rwanda, and declared their willingness to develop a joint project for the production of electricity from methane gas in Lake Kivu, among other initiatives and announced through a final communiqué from the meeting that both Governments would rapidly proceed with the implementation of the project
Following the meeting, a joint technical committee was set up to discuss how the commitment of government leaders should be implemented.
On Thursday, 10th November 2016, officials from the two countries met in the Congolese town of Goma where they discussed the way forward.
Hon. Dr. Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Natural Resources who led the Rwandan delegation to Goma, said Lake Kivu is endowed with a lot of shared resources that can be jointly exploited for the benefit of the people in both countries.
Group photo after the ministerial meeting in Goma - DRC
"There are resources we need to exploit together for the common development of our countries, there are agreements signed long ago under which both countries committed to work together on joint projects but some have derailed while others are in progress. Rwanda has made a breakthrough in exploiting methane gas; we have also started exploration for oil in the area. The resources are trans-border so we can work faster and efficiently together,” said Biruta.
Jean Bosco Mugiraneza, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and Chairperson of joint technical committee - Rwanda, said there are enough energy resources in the lake to significantly make a difference for the people of both countries.
“Kivuwatt Methane Gas to Power Plant is generating electricity on the Rwandan side, and we are now looking at ways the second phase (Kivuwatt II project) can be pursued jointly,” said Mugiraneza, adding that research shows that up to 700 megawatts can be extracted from Lake Kivu for a period of at least 50 years.
Speaking during the meeting, Aimé Ngoi Mukena Lusa Desiré, the Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons, also emphasized the need to work together.
“We have talked and talked about cooperation in exploiting the resources in the Kivu area long enough; it is time to implement,” Ngoi said.
“The will of our Heads of State must prevail. Today, we are ready to start from what is there, Rwanda has started and if they have advanced, we are ready to catch up as they can also catch up on what we started.”
He added “other than energy; the two countries should also work on other projects, mainly roads’’.
Effective exploration of methane gas in Lake Kivu is expected to boost electricity generation in both Rwanda and DR Congo and accelerate economic growth in both countries.
The electricity access countrywide in Rwanda stands today at 27 per cent while DR Congo stands at about 20 per cent, according to officials
Group photo: Joint Technical Committee Rwanda and DR Congo in a meeting in Rubavu, Rwanda
Kivuwatt methane gas to power barge (26MW)