The Minister of State in charge of Environment, Water and Mines in ministry Natural Resources, Vincent Karega, has downplayed recent media reports over fears that if methane gas deposits in Lake Kivu are not exploited in the near future they are likely to explode.
During an exclusive interview, Karega said that government is confident that the process of extracting the gas is being done the right way.
“The dangers that have kind of been foreseen and reported in some sections of the media may not be as pronounced as has been highlighted,” said Karega.
He added that contrary to the reports Rwanda is instead working with renowned experts with the intent of acquiring necessary knowledge to enable it strike an equilibrium between extraction and environmental sustainability.
This sort of equilibrium, the minister emphasized, has been achieved.“That also means that the process of extraction has been preceded by a lot of research and surveys on the way forward,” he added.
Karega said that as Rwanda moves steadily into extraction phase after acquiring knowledge assets to enable it sustainably manage the resources, it has instituted very strict environmental safeguards for all those willing to partake in the extraction.
Some of these safeguards include obliging all extracting companies to acquire environmental impact assessment plans prior to extraction.
This assessment, Karega said, looks at critical issues such as the extent of the extraction by each prospective company, risks to be managed and mitigated as well as technologies to be deployed.
He added that Rwanda will be taking the good news to the world during the forthcoming Copenhagen summit on how it intends to make a valuable contribution by capturing the methane gas that has been listed as one of the major hazards to the world’s climate system.
“We have plans to turn this seemingly harmful gas into a new source of energy.
As we do that, we will in effect be releasing low quantities of this gas to the atmosphere.
Meaning that we are actually set to be part of the global system giving a credible solution to a huge global challenge,” he said.
Karega said that capturing the methane gas from escaping into the environment that damages the climate system and instead using it to undertake sustainable development, is in itself a ‘big thing’.