Lake Kivu and its problems

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Located in the East-African Rift, Lake Kivu has become the focus of
media attention for some time, as Rwanda has started exploiting the huge amount of methane stored in its deep waters for production of electricity. This exploitation is often considered as a win-win solution, as it contributes to reducing the risk of gas eruption…but is that true? This paper provides a summary of research activities, e.g. by Belgianscientists, since the early 20th century, which have highlighted the unique physical structure of Lake Kivu and the huge amount of CH4 and CO2 contained in its deep waters. The issue of the risks implied by these gases is considered in the context of methane exploitation, notably for the surface water ecosystem (“biozone” or “mixolimnion”) historically modified by the introduction of a fish which has developed into a fishery of economic importance for the local human population. In this respect, although the industrial methane exploitation is submitted to strict rules, monitoring ecosystem status is necessary to check that CH4 extraction is not detrimental to the lake resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-234
Journal Bulletin des séances de l'Académie royale des sciences d'Outre-mer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Great African lake
  • Methane
  • Ecosystem
  • energy production
  • Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo


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