Government-sanctioned research which has been going on since 2002 to find alternative sources of energy for cement production and other industrial needs in Rwanda has finally come to a successful conclusion.
For a start, the sole national cement factory, Cimerwa, will now depend less on costly diesel.
This is because it has been established that peat, a coal-like fossil fuel vastly available in the country, is a valuable energy resource too.
The history of the use of peat goes back thousands of years. Peat is the primary natural resource for energy in a number of countries around the world.
For example in Finland one third of the total area of the country is peat-land. Being the world leader in regard to technology connected with peat production, the European country can serve as Rwanda’s case study in our own efforts to exploit this resource.
Bog formation is a continuous process. This provides assurance against exhaustion. In most cases use is less than the increasing amount of peat. And the same peatland can yield peat for about 15 years.
Afterwards the peat production site can be utilised in many ways, like planting trees there.
Geological specialists have said that Rwanda is endowed with about 200 million tonnes of peat. By tapping the resource, Cimerwa already projects a five hundred percent increase in production, up from its current annual turnover of only 100,000 tonnes.
The national environment regulatory agency (REMA) should rest assured that the extraction will not leave behind impotent land. On the contrary, peat production sites have in other parts of the world been made to continue yielding.
For instance besides planting trees, the sites can be flooded to form lakes and nature reserves say for birds.
This would boost ORTPN’s latest tourist attraction item, bird watching.
Also, being clean from weeds, the sites would be ideal for growing berries for use in health foods, juice, wine and confectionery.
The low industrialisation stage which the country is still at may for now make the idea sound utopian.
However, we should remember that we are not stunted but growing.
In some areas fish farming too may be embarked on to present a new business opportunity, or still if you like, allow the sites to revert to their original wetland state.
Putting peat and its mines to high productivity is one of the answers to our challenge of having a small land area.