The Russian Federation and government of Uganda have signed an intergovernmental pact on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed during the 63rd International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General conference that kicked off early this week in Vienna, Austria.

The agreement was signed by Deputy Director General – Director of international activities of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, Nikolay Spassky, and the Minister of energy and mineral resources of the Republic of Uganda Eng. Muloni Irene Nafuna.

In particular, it implies joint work in the creation of nuclear infrastructure, production of radioisotopes for industrial, healthcare, agricultural use, as well as education and retraining.

The parties agreed to exchange visits for industry experts in the near future and to create work-groups for specific applications in areas including the construction of the Centre for nuclear science and technology in Uganda on the basis of a research reactor of Russian design.

Earlier, at the opening of the conference, Acting Director-General of IAEA, Cornel Ferut indicated that the Agency’s membership had increased to 171 countries hence increasing demand for its services.

The IAEA’s mandate is to contribute to international peace and security through the verification of nuclear material, ensuring it remains in peaceful uses, and also help to improve the well-being and prosperity of the people of the world through the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

“We help countries on all continents to generate electricity, produce more food, manage their water supplies, combat deadly infectious diseases affecting humans, plants, and animals, and treat cancer,” Mr Feruta said.

Africa  Nuclear Energy Ambitions

There is a strong conviction that nuclear energy has the capacity to provide energy access to a greater
number of Africa’s population. The International Energy Agency highlights that over 600 million Africans do not have access to reliable electricity. Nuclear Energy provides the needed base-load to supply electricity throughout.

This could be a game-changer in terms of easing up access to power for the population that is left out. It is estimated that Africa growing population is going to hit 2.8 billion by 2060. This requires innovative energy solutions to guarantee sustained growth in energy supply.

In Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda are interested in setting up nuclear power infrastructure.

South Africa already has an operating nuclear plant with 1800MW capacity made up of two Pressurized water reactors. The first commercial nuclear reactor began operating in 1984. South Africa Eskom is the owner and operator of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station,  which began construction in 1976 and was commissioned in 1984.

The policy principles for Nuclear energy use in South Africa as highlighted in their policy document is to provide diversification of primary energy sources and to ensure energy security, contribute to economic growth and mitigate climate change.

Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia have already signed an agreement with international nuclear power developers offering to deploy of nuclear power, providing the technology, training of human resource and setting up regulatory bodies. Ethiopia is also soon going to add onto the list, once they sign an agreement with Russia’s nuclear developer (Rosatom).

@ Bandhiga Media