Rwanda’s Minister for Natural Resource, Vincent Biruta, and the Congolese Minister for Hydrocarbons, Aimé Ngoi Mukena Lusa Desiré, signed a deal on the  joint exploration of oil, methane gas and other natural wealth in Lake Kivu, with an aim of producing energy for the people of both countries, KT Press reported.

The agreement for joint exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu dates back to 1975, yet neither country took tangible actions towards achieving this goal. The lake presents the potential to generate over 700MW of methane gas, of which 26MW have been extracted through the Kivuwatt project on the Rwandan side, informed The New Times.

Rwanda Energy Group’s CEO, Jean-Bosco Mugiraneza, said, “Kivuwatt project is generating electricity on the Rwandan side, and we are now looking at ways the second phase (Kivuwatt II project) can be pursued jointly.” Effective exploration of methane gas in Lake Kivu is expected to boost electricity generation in both Rwanda and DR Congo, accelerate economic growth in both countries, and reduce the potential danger caused by a possible methane gas explosion.

In related news, days after the agreement, Rwanda’s cabinet, chaired by President Paul Kagame, approved 37 new licenses for various mineral and quarry sites. The cabinet also granted licenses to 11 companies for exploration of five sites. The sites were Nemba, Sebeya, Giciye, Rutsiro and Mara, all lying along a corridor stretching from Rubavu district, down to Rusizi district. The region borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).