KINSHASA, June 13 – African neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have joined forces to turn dissolved methane gas in the giant Kivu border lake into electricity, Congolese officials said Friday.
With an estimated investment of 300 million dollars (215 million euros), the project is planned to generate 200 megawatts of energy with a potential 700 megawatts over a 55-year period, Congo\’s electricity chief Eugene Serufuli Ngayabaseka told AFP.
In 2002, potential reserves of methane gas were estimated at 50 billion cubic metres.
Generating could begin by the end of 2009, with a cross-border panel of experts being set up to take the project to the next stage by July, he added.
"Satisfying conclusions drawn from the Rwandan experience of exploiting methane gas to produce electricity have convinced the Congolese authorities of the need for such a project for Lake Kivu," Serufuli said.
The Congo has one of the world\’s lowest electricity consumption rates, a third of the African average, according to the African Development Bank.
A lack of investment coupled with rising population saw electricity consumption per person almost half between 1980 and 2002.
However, the country is home to more than a third of Africa\’s entire hydro-electric generating potential, although that method has barely been utilised to-date.