GASABO - A four-man Congolese delegation yesterday met officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure (Mininfra) to discuss ways in which the two countries can cooperate in the exploitation of methane gas from Lake Kivu.
The lake is shared between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
The meeting chaired by Energy State Minister Dr. Albert Butare was tasked to draw a concept paper on a joint project of generating electricity from the lake.
The document will highlight several issues, including the lake’s energy potential, market in the region, technology to be used, time frame for discussions, project financing and, the project management team.
Studies show that the amount of methane gas and carbon dioxide in the bottom of Lake Kivu have increased by 30 percent in the last 30 years.
“These are people from the DRC’s SNEL or Societe Nationale d’Electricite and, they are here to explore our cooperation in terms of exploitation and use of methane gas in Lake Kivu,” Dr. Butare said during the meeting.
Explaining the background, Dr. Butare noted that a series of other related meetings were held earlier, including one in March 2007, in Gisenyi, where two vital issues were agreed on.
“We agreed on two things then – cooperation in gas exploitation and having a joint monitoring team to regulate and formulate guidelines for methane gas exploitation. Right now, we are trying to enforce this,” Dr. Butare said.
Eugene Serufuli, President of the administrative council of DRC’s national electricity utility – SNEL, heads the Congolese delegation and he too, backed up the essence of the bilateral discussions.
Serufuli acknowledged that the electricity generated would be beneficial to both countries’ development projects, and noted that Rwanda was ahead – carried out feasibility studies and realized the possibility of harnessing electricity from methane gas and, DRC was interested in a similar joint project.
“We wish to strengthen this cooperation arrangement, see how the agreement can be implemented so that we can cooperate and be able to get electricity for our people,” he said, re-echoing Dr. Butare, and stressing the need for what he called a partnership and mutual agreement as the first point.
Serufuli emphasized the need for joint monitoring – follow up on methane gas exploitation procedures, to avoid problems likely to be caused by improper tampering with the many dangerous gaseous components found deep within the lake.