There is a great need in Rwanda to find alternative, sustainable sources of fuel. The widespread use of firewood and charcoal for cooking and heating poses a large threat to the environment. While several alternatives to wood and charcoal exist, they are not widely distributed and used, and many people find them expensive.
Zainab Ingabire stays in at Nyabugogo, she says she uses charcoal for cooking, despite its harmful emissions from smoke, because she cannot afford cleaner burning fuels.
"I don't know other means of cooking, simply they are reserved for well to do men," she adds.
Her neighbor, Fortune Uwababyeyi, who sells vegetables at the street of Nyabugogo, says the costs of alternative energies are high and she cannot afford to buy them either.
"These so-called alternative energies are expensive and do not even cook efficiently. I enjoy cooking at my stove with charcoal," she says.
However, the ministry of infrastructure says that use of alternative energies is at 46%.
He points out some of these new advances in fuel efficiency and cleanness, like biogas (made from the fermentation of organic matter), peat, efficient cooking stoves and others will, in the long-term, save people money.
Mininfra and the Rwanda Environment Management Authority have conducted campaigns to sensitize people on less costly means of energy as well as protection of environment.
"These alternative sources of energy are less costly as they use materials that they have at their homes. For instance, using biogas can be cheaper as people have cows with them in the countryside and other materials to make it," he indicates.
Specialists in biogas companies say the biogas is difficult to find, contributing to the lack of popularity.
Rose Mukankomeje, the director general of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), emphasizes that the widespread use of wood for fuel and the lack of alternative energies will result in massive deforestation.
She indicates that there is still a need to increase use of alternative energies in order to save Rwanda's forests.
"As a country that depends on wood as source of energy, especially for cooking, we have to increase the use of biogas," she points out.
Mukankomeje stresses that organic manure, which is a bio-product, is very good for agriculture use.
"It is the best you can have. By promoting the use of biogas, we will protect our forests (which are under pressure) and will adapt better to climate change, forests sequestration, and greenhouse gas," she notes, adding that the use of alternative energy will fight indoor pollution that is known to cause health issues, as well as end the practice of sending children to gather firewood while they should be at school.
Mukankomeje calls upon people to embrace programs using new, clean, sustainable energies. "We haveto strengthen the 'one family program' that provides the raw material [for biogas]," she notes, indicating that there is a need for all stakeholders, including the government, NGOs, and civil society to get involved and raise awareness.