KIGALI-Rwanda may start generating electricity from methane
gas from Lake Kivu by June this year, a cabinet minister
The Minister of Energy, Albert Butare said that the pilot
electricity plant at Gisenyi will generate about 5 megawatts.
The 10 million Euros plant will initially supply electricity
to the towns of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri in western and northern
provinces of the country respectively.
“The full exploitation and utilisation of the gas
in one of East Africa’s most endowed lakes, is to
contribute to sustainable socio-economic development as
the country moves into the critical stage of industrialisation,”
The Prime Minister, Bernard Makuza who visited the plant
on the shores of Lake Kivu recently, said that when fully
implemented, the project will mitigate the energy shortage
in the region.
“We strongly believe that methane gas from Lake Kivu
will provide in the near future a sustainable solution to
the energy challenges and cause development not only in
Rwanda but also in the region” Makuza said.
It is estimated that this project has potential to generate
some 700 megawatts of electricity when both the Gisenyi
and Kibuye plants are fully operational.
Lake Kivu has been found to have about 55 billion cubic
metres of dissolved methane gas at a depth of 300 metres.
The government has in the past invested in thermal energy
by installing generators in various parts of the country
as a temporary solution to the energy crisis but turned
out to be costly due to rising price of diesel— with
the country spending in excess of $1 million per month.
Experts have said that both Gisenyi and Kibuye methane projects
once fully developed can generate more power than Rwanda
It is anticipated that some of it will be exported to neighbouring
countries such as Uganda that is suffering from a widening
“This project will also contribute to a reduction
in the use of firewood or charcoal in the region as well
as a reduction on pollution within the local environment
by using a clean and renewable energy,” Makuza said.
According to Butare, Rwanda has in the past been consuming
imported fuel from abroad and large volumes of wood and
He says that natural gas is a much higher efficiency fuel
because it is environmentally friendly and will reduce deforestation
which has reached an alarming level in the country.
He said a shift to the use of methane energy will greatly
improve both economic and environmental conditions in Rwanda.
“The government is avoiding past mistakes of not investing
in power which has cost the country a lot of funds due to
the difficulty in supplying hydro power. The government
has in the past invested in thermal energy by installing
generators in various parts of the country as a temporary
solution to the energy crisis, which turned out to be costly
due to expensive diesel” he said during a recent visit
He said Rwanda hopes to double its current electricity
generation within two years.
When fully exploited, the methane gas available in the in
Lake Kivu however, has the potential to increase Rwanda’s
energy production by more than 20 times and that the government
is currently courting more investors to build several plants.
Gisenyi residents say they hope this project will soon
save them from big electricity bills and power crisis.
“We hope to start enjoying the benefits of methane
gas from our lake and will contribute significantly to the
socio-economic transformation of our area,” said Hassan
Mwunvaneza, a resident.