Kenya and Uganda Eye Nuclear Power

Kenya and Uganda are among the countries making progress in nuclear technology in sub-Saharan Africa with both involved with the pre-feasibility study stage in their atomic energy programmes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last week, Kenya successfully completed its pre-feasibility stage while Uganda is currently conducting its own.

A pre-feasibility stage involves assessing energy needs, proposing roadmaps, developing expertise and training human resources, establishing policy and regulatory frameworks and mobilizing funding as a country prepares to conduct feasibility studies for nuclear plants.

“Kenya and Uganda join their sub-Saharan Africa counter-parts, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Niger while in North Africa – Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya have taken notable steps,” Jin Kwang Lee, African Regional Officer at IAEA told a conference on energy and nuclear power in Kwale.

In an interview on the sidelines of the conference, James Banaabe Isingoma, Uganda’s acting Commissioner for Energy Efficiency and Conservation told East African Business Week while it is perceived Uganda will build a nuclear plant by 2026, this projection is too ambitious, because financing for reactors is hard to find.

“The safe estimate is 20 years. Not 10 years. Everything we have achieved so far is with the support of IAEA which has helped us make strides in building technical capacity,” Isingoma said.

Kenya aims to have a nuclear plant by 2025, the country’s Principle Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Joseph Njoroge told the conference during the opening on Monday.

Kenya hopes to establish a 1,000 MW reactor between 2022 and 2027. Njoroge said, “We are committed to the introduction of nuclear energy to our country’s energy mix which is currently dominated by hydro-power projects. We will soon deplete geothermal and hydro generation hence be left with no choice, but to go nuclear,” he said.

“We are injecting Ksh 300 million (about $3 million) in human resource training annually and we think nuclear will be a game changer. It is economically strategic because all other available resources will be exploited by 2031,” Njoroge said.

He said, “It means we will be able to drive iron and steel production, electric rails, powering mills and petroleum pipelines.”

Currently, the two regional neighbours are grappling with insufficient power supply as demand increases with economic growth and rural electrification programmes that are putting more people on the grid.

Uganda’s installed electricity generation capacity is 851.53 MW mainly from hydropower, cogeneration and oil fired plants. Electricity demand is growing at an average rate of about 15% with the peak power demand of about 489 MW.

According to the energy planning study 2015-2040 1000 MW of nuclear will be required earliest 2026 and latest 2034.

Kenya forecasts that nuclear will account for 20% of total energy requirements by 2021.

Source : East African Business Week

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