Rwanda inaugurates the KivuWatt methane gas to power project

THE African Development Bank (AfDB) participated last month in the inauguration of the 25 MW first phase of KivuWatt Methane Gas to Power complex located at the Lake Kivu in Western Rwanda, 130 kilometres from the capital Kigali.

Lake Kivu, at the boundary of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the world’s three known ‘exploding lakes’, presenting a threat as well as an opportunity for local communities. Volcanic and bacterial activity in the lake generates substantial methane deposits that, if unmanaged, could erupt violently with disastrous effects on local lives, wildlife and the environment.

The project comprises two main components – an innovative methane gas extraction and purification facility located on a floating barge 13 km off the coast of Lake Kivu to harvest methane rich gas from 320 metres below the lake surface, and a 25 MW capacity power plant on the lake shore at Kibuye to convert the Methane gas to electrical energy.

After several years of technical challenges, it has now been proven possible to exploit the Lake Kivu methane gas for large scale energy production to light up and power millions of Rwandese homes. The project has been developed by Contour Global of USA on a 25-year concession with financing from the African Development Bank Private Sector Window, Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, the Netherlands Development Finance Company, and the Belgium Investment Company. AfDB contributed  $25 million.

In a statement on behalf of the financiers, the resident representative of the AfDB in Rwanda, Negatu Makonnen, highlighted Kivuwatt’s contribution to Rwanda’s energy sector goals, and underscored the importance of collaboration among the key players – Government, private sector and financiers for the success of the project. He also emphasised the need to ensure that lessons learnt from the implementation of the first phase are incorporated in Phase 2 of the Kivuwatt Project.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda thanked all those involved in the realisation of Kivuwatt project for not giving up despite the many challenges the project faced and welcomed Rwanda’s neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo for joint exploitation of the Lake Kivu resources, especially for production of electricity.

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