KIGALI - Burundi will join Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the exploration of methane gas reserves from the Lake Kivu.The joint venture comes months after Rwanda and DRC signed an agreement to exploit gas from Kivu.
The development was confirmed yesterday by Dr Albert Butare, the State Minister for Energy during a telephone interview.
According to Butare, there is a forthcoming meeting between the energy ministers of Rwanda, DRC and Burundi meant to discuss how Burundi can be integrated into the joint project.
The meeting will also review the feasibility of the exploration project.
“During the meetings we will be looking mainly at the mechanisms for the exploitation of the methane gas resources,” Butare said, explaining that the other countries will benefit from Rwanda’s expertise as the latter had already started with preparatory mechanisms for the exploitation.
“That is good neighbourhood, isn’t it?” he said rhetorically. “We don’t want them to reinvent the wheel.”
It is estimated that the joint exploitation of the methane gas will generate about 200 Megawatts (MW), the input of which is expected to significantly reduce the energy gap by boosting the country’s electrification roll-out to 16 percent in 2012.
Rwanda’s current capacity is evaluated at 61MW and serves to satisfy only about six percent of the total population, which is about 110,000 electric connections.
Minister Butare however explained that the coming into force of the joint exploitation project does not stop the ongoing national initiatives that aim at benefiting from the natural resources in Lake Kivu waters.
“This joint project will not prevent countries’ own domestic projects from going on,” he noted.
The initiative to jointly exploit the methane gas was fostered by the recent historic meeting between Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of DRC, who vowed to move beyond security concerns and aim at stronger cooperation in all sectors of life.
The two Heads of State also talked about the possibility to strengthen the former economic cooperation body, CEPGL, an economic union that binds together Rwanda, DRC and Burundi.