Gasmeth Energy Limited, a locally registered company, has committed to invest over US$400 million in the construction and maintenance of a gas extraction plant, processing and compression project in Lake Kivu.
The firm signed an agreement to the effect with the government through Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Gasmeth Energy plans to finance, construct and maintain a gas extraction, processing and compression project at the lake.
The compressed natural gas is expected to significantly boost the country's energy output, and help in the delivery of the ambitious government target of giving all Rwandans access to electricity by 2020.
The investment valued at $400 million (approximately Rwf358bn) investment is projected to create project employment for between 600-800 people during the construction phase and 400 employees after construction.
RDB chief executive officer Clare Akamanzi said that natural gas is the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel and will help reduce the use of wood and charcoal as a cooking fuel as well as diesel fuel in the automotive industry.
"The deep water of Lake Kivu contains dissolved methane and carbon dioxide. These gases pose a serious risk to all the oxygen dependent life in the vicinity of the lake as they continue to build up. However, methane gas also provides an energy resource valued at billions of dollars for the Kivu region," she said.
Among the impacts she said will result from the development include creation of employment, reduce Rwanda's natural gas import bill, increase gas exports and provide cleaner cooking fuel.
To realise this, efforts have been made to attract private investors to take on some of the energy production activities as well as establish alternative sources of energy.
Gasmeth Energy is currently latest private player in the energy sector, particularly in the production of methane gas in Lake Kivu.
There are already two private investors -- Contour Global and Symbion Power -- that currently extract methane gas from Lake Kivu.
Contour Global's KivuWatt Project currently produces 26.4 MW with plans to produce 100 MW during its second phase of work, while US-based Symbion Power owns two plants all of which are located at the shores of Lake Kivu.
Symbion Power, an energy development company which entered a concession agreement with the government in 2017, separately owns Kibuye Power (KP1) and Lake Kivu 56 projects.
The Kivu 56 project, on the other hand, is planned to supply 56 MW of power into Rwanda's grid under a 25-year concession. It plans to generate 56 MW of power.
The methane in Lake Kivu is estimated to have capacity to generate 700 MW of electricity over a period of 55 years.
Rwanda's share of the total generation potential is about 350 MW, with the rest being the share of DR Congo.