July 18—Within 15 years, Uganda will start using nuclear energy to generate electricity and supplement other available sources currently being used, despite critics concerns over the government’s capacity to tackle the associated safety issues involved.
Energy minister Eng. Irene Muloni was recently speaking during a working group meeting of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA). The media was restricted access except for the official opening. AFRA is an affiliate of the International Atomic Energy Agency which based in Vienna, Austria.
She said, “Hydro-electricity remains our main source of energy at the moment. However this will not be enough to develop the economy to the industrialized economy that we are all planning for in 2040. We have already signed agreements with Russia and other countries that have expertise in the use of nuclear energy and we are convinced that in the next 15 years, Uganda will have started using nuclear energy on a big scale.”
Several parts of sub-Saharan Africa have relatively large deposits of uranium (including Uganda), but only South Africa presently uses nuclear power from two reactors producing nearly 2000MW. In comparison the United States has 100 nuclear stations which contribute 100,000MW of power while Switzerland can boast of five and just over 3000MW of electricity.
Eng. Muloni said although there are many challenges that surround the use of nuclear energy, Uganda was committed to its use as a way of producing adequate and sustainable levels of electricity. AFRA provides a framework for African member states to intensify their collaboration through programmes and projects focused on the specific shared needs of its members in nuclear energy. It is a formal inter-governmental agreement which entered into force in 1990.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, said now is the time for Africa to use nuclear resources to develop their economies and shift from the under developed status that it has failed to break out of. He said issues of safety and security were already being dealt with the introduction of the Uganda Atomic Energy Council which regulates atomic nuclear use and development.
Dr. Rugunda said, “We are currently training scientists who will help in the safety development of the nuclear sector. I am informed that AFRA with support from the IAEA is also looking to recruit potential young scientist from different countries for safety and security training in nuclear development. I am convinced that Africa is ready to use atomic nuclear energy for its development.”
He said, “currently we have seen the advantages of atomic nuclear in the treatment of cancer, we are currently building six atomic bunkers at the Uganda Cancer Institute and we are also waiting for the restoration of the radio therapy machine that will be here soon to help our cancer patients. “
Mickel Edwerd, the Director, of the AFRA focal point at IAEA said the regional organisation was facing challenges of funding and asked member countries to make their contributions on time. The meeting which will go on until July 21st, is being organized by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development with support from IAEA, will also review the achievements under AFRA, deliberate on AFRA policies and programs and further improvements on the management of technical cooperation programs in Africa.