Already used to produce electricity since 2015, the methane from Lake Kivu could soon also be used as cooking fuel in the homes of the Mille Collines country.
This is in any case the wish of the Rwandan authorities who, at a meeting held on Tuesday 19 November in Kigali with donors and development partners, announced that they would commission a study on the possibilities of using methane from Lake Kivu for household combustion needs. « Methane gas not only provides electricity, it can also be used for other purposes, such as cooking. But we need a feasibility study for this and those who can implement the project, » said Coletha Ruhamya, Executive Director of the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), who presented the Rwandan action plan to combat global warming (Rwanda ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016).
Indeed, the country’s needs are immense: according to the Rwandan Ministry of Environment, 80% of the population still depends on firewood for cooking. A combustion method which, in addition to its negative impact on the environment (deforestation and the greenhouse effect), also causes respiratory diseases due to air pollution. The Ministry of Health estimates that more than three million Rwandans – a quarter of the country’s total population – are directly affected by these types of health problems and that 12,000 deaths per year are attributed to poor air quality.
Not surprisingly, under these conditions, clean energy is one of the priorities of the Rwandan action plan. In addition to specific tax incentives, the government has announced its intention to install 35,000 biogas digesters each year by 2030, with the aim of having 100% of households equipped with an « improved household combustion » system by that date. An initiative fully endorsed by institutional donors. Stephen Rodrigues, UNDP Country Director, confirmed that his organization « is partnering with the government to move to clean cooking solutions ». « The effort is to ensure that we have the expertise, research and analysis to properly extract methane, » he added.