Lake Kivu (WP)
Lake Kivu is one of the Great Lakes of Africa, situated between the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Rwanda to the east. Lying at 4,790 feet (1,460 m) above sea level, it occupies 1,040 square miles (2,700 square km) and is 55 miles (90 km) long (north-south) and 30 miles wide (east-west).
From an average depth of 722 feet (220 m), it plunges to a maximum of 1,558 feet (475m). Lake Kivu has a rough, jagged coast and contains numerous islands, a part of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu empties into the Rusizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.
Kivu’s shores are densely populated, the principal towns being Bukavu and Goma in Congo, Cyangugu and Rubavu in Rwanda. The first European to visit the lake was the German explorer Count Adolf von Götzen in 1894.
Lake Kivu, located 100 miles north of Lake Tanganyika at the highest point of the East-African Rift Valley (approximately 1500m in elevation), Although it is supplied with fish, the lake is poor in fauna but rich in volcanic substance. Great volumes of dissolved methane gases that may be developed as energy sources exist in its deep waters.
Three resort towns in the Rwandan side, Rubavu, Kibuye and Cyangugu, stand on the littoral, connected by a wild roller-coaster road that tumbles through lush plantain fields and relic patches of misty rainforest to offer sweeping views over the blue water. It is one of the classic road journeys in all of Africa. There is also charter boat service on the lake connecting the three towns.
Rubavu, the most developed of these resorts, lays at less than an hour’s drive from the Volcanoes National Park, on a sandy beach lined with swaying palms and hotels that exude an atmosphere of tropical languor.
Kibuye, to its south, tourist activities are centered on a two modern lakeshore hotel overlooking pine covered hills seemingly transplanted from the Alps.
Different again is
Cyangugu, close to Nyungwe National Park, whose more subdued tourist development is compensated for by a stirring setting of curving inlets winding into narrow valleys.
Lake Kivu has recently been found to contain approximately 55 billion cubic meters (72 billion cubic yards) of dissolved methane gas at a depth of 300 meters (1,000 ft). Until 2004, extraction of the gas was done on a small scale, with the extracted gas being used to run boilers for the Bralirwa brewery in Rubavu.
As far as large-scale exploitation of this resource is concerned, in 2005 the Rwandan government financed the first world experience of producing electricity from methane gas, which now produces 8 megawatts in Rubavu town.
Extraction is said to be cost effective and simple because once the gas rich water is pumped up the dissolved gases (primarily carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane) begin to bubble out as the water pressure gets lower. This project is expected to increase Rwanda's energy generation capability by as much as 20 times and will enable Rwanda to sell electricity to neighboring African countries.