A recent study of the Rwanda Forest Agency ensures the wood is still mainly used in 80% of households to cook and heat. It is a dangerous situation, especially when the country invests a lot in reforestation and should lose part of its electric production because of a lack of consumers. There is a need for a paradigm shift for the government that wants its population to use LPG, biogas, and electricity.
By Cyuzuzo Saady
“The way we burn charcoal gives us 30% of the actual product we are supposed to be getting from the reforastation process. If we are only doing this in the time of the week, are we aiming for a desert country?” The question of the Minister of Environment Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya couldn’t be more explicit. Over the past three months, the Rwanda Forest Agency has conducted a survey which claimed that over 61,241 bags of charcoal enter Kigali in a week, which accounts for 485.2 hectares of land from which the trees are cut from. Incredible for a country that pursues ambitious policies about reforestation. And while the country expected surplus energy of electricity extracted, which will be effective by January 2021 and will accounts for 40 billion RWF (34 million euros) if not consumed. There is a need for a paradigm shift for the government that wants its population to use LPG, biogas, and electricity.
“Are we aiming for a desert country?”
So the government gets involved with one goal: “The government’s plan of Economic Development for seven years claims that Rwandans who use forest products for cooking must be reduced to 42% by 2024 from 79.9% record in 2017” The government aid such as small loans to help those who can’t offer to buy the cooking machines and stoves will be laid off. And other incentives will be set up to uplift the rural areas, which are said to be consuming energy from biomass to a rate of 90%, where wood fuel is the leading one. The government has also exempted the tax on gas and other fuels to aid charcoal’s end-use.
Public and private, everybody mobilizes
The Ministry of Environment has made it their own to create awareness and finance all the activities with the Ministry of Emergency Management partnership and other bodies such as military bodies, hotels, military and refugees’ camps, and schools. Location chose for the high number of the population they feed and could be the champions of this project. And with success. “Up to 8.5 million Rwf (7000 euros) was put to buy wood fuel but the gas we are using 8 tonnes per term which is only 8 million Rwf” head of Lycee De Kigali, which has more than 1400 students, Msabo Martin explained. Same thing in the 13 prisons where “we have been using 19 000 containers of wood fuel” Assistant Commissioner and Division manager of logistics of prisons Gatete Kamili explained, “but we have made it our aim to use biogas and only two more prisons to get on track.” Under the Ministry of Environment, the government of Rwanda has opened the challenge to the private sectors and institutions to rebrand the image of a country by planting more trees on the mountains that have no trees. This has started with Bank of Kigali, which is planting their forest in Rulindo. And many more could follow—a way to revegetate the country of a thousand hills.