US firm sells stock to fund Rwanda power projects

Wednesday September 27 2017

The KivuWatt’s gas extraction facility on Lake

The KivuWatt’s gas extraction facility on Lake Kivu. PHOTO FILE | NMG 

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American Power Generation firm Symbion Energy has sold part of its stock in Rwanda to Highland Group Holdings Ltd (HGHL).

The firm is raising capital to upgrade its 3.6MW Kibuye Power 1 methane gas-to-electricity and to support the development of Kivu 56 methane-to-electricity generation projects on Lake Kivu.

Highland Group paid $100 million for an undisclosed number of shares in the project. The deal was signed in New York on September 21 by the chairman of Highland Group Lord Irvine Laidlaw and Symbion Energy CEO Paul Hinks.

According to Symbion, the Kibuye Power 1 (KP1) and Kivu56 methane gas-to-electricity projects require $370 million to reach a combined output of 106MW.

“This funding means we can fasttrack at least 22MW of power within 18 months. Roughly eight to 10MW of that can be available by mid-2018 from the existing plant [KP1 ]. It will be rehabilitated and expanded,” said Mr Hinks.

Symbion Energy bought KP1 plant from the Rwandan government for an undisclosed amount last year, with a plan to increase its generation capacity to 50MW over the next three years.


Symbion Energy is developing Kivu56, a greenfield second power plant, after signing concession and power purchase agreements for another 56MW methane-to-electricity plant on Lake Kivu.

“We will be producing electricity by utilising a unique renewable resource — methane from the bottom of Lake Kivu.  Delivering this will be a challenge I look forward to. Even more important, we are generating power for one of the fastest growing countries in Africa, so we’ll be making a major contribution to its continued growth,” said Mr Laidlaw.

Lake Kivu contains an estimated 55 billion cubic metres of naturally occurring methane gas. 

The total power generation potential of the resource has been conservatively estimated at more than 500MW over a 40-year period.