13 February 2013

Rwanda: Development Board Seeks More Investors in Methane

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is seeking investors to develop a 50MW methane power plant at Lake Kivu. This will be in addition to the current plant owned by American firm, Contour Global, as the country targets to multiply its energy production.

Contour Global is the only firm exploring for methane gas in Lake Kivu to set up a 100MW power plant. However, RDB said there was still room for more companies to join the venture.

"Contour Global will be providing the first phase of 25MW by August. There is also an upcoming opportunity for the development of additional 50MW, through a competitive process," Vivian Kayitesi, the RDB head of investment promotion and implementation unit, told Business Times.

"A call for prequalification for the project is expected early next month. The investor will be expected to design, finance, build, operate and own the 50MW methane-to-power plant. We hope it will attract a number of investors, Kayitesi revealed."

Methane gas extraction for power production has over the years received keen interest from investors, the most recent being an Oman company, MB Holding Company.

MB Holding is a multinational company with investments around Europe, Middle East and Africa in the extractives industry.

A delegation from the company led by its chairman and founder, Al Mohammed Al Barwani, last week visited the country and held talks with the Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi about their interest in the energy sector, especially producing power from methane gas.

Clare Akamanzi, the acting RDB chief executive, welcomed the Oman group's interest, saying if the firm invests in the sector, Rwanda would gain greatly from the natural gas in Lake Kivu.

"Contour Global has a concession for 100MW and the lake has a capacity to produce 350MW. So, there is room for other investors," Akamanzi said.

"The Oman group is an experienced company. However, this was their first exploratory visit, so it will take time for us to reach a deal with them Akamanzi said."

Through its subsidiary, Kivuwatt, Contour Global announced in December that they would connect the initial 25MW onto the national power grid from the methane gas project this year.

The company is also in advanced plans to kick start the second phase of the project that will produce 75MW.

Once it is operational, the methane gas project will greatly help the country achieve its target of connecting 50 per cent households to electricity by 2017.

Access to electricity in Rwanda is at 16 per cent, up from eight per cent in 2008.

The country currently produces 110MW of power.

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