Nigeria and 16 other African countries may turn to nuclear power plants for power generation, under a power base diversification programme supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Already, IAEA has conducted a regional training programme for personnel from countries participating in the project. The other countries which are involved in the project are Tunisia, Namibia, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
The countries which decided on the project with the assurance that nuclear plants are more economical to run, while their availability and productivity have increased with less down-time for maintenance.
As a main step, the nations have gathered in Abuja for a regional training course on self-assessment of national regulatory infrastructure for safety.
With the training course, African member-states will be able to examine radiation and nuclear safety in the region and by doing so they contribute to the overall global nuclear security.
Shamsudeen Usman, Nigerian minister of national planning, said “The long-term stability of the cost of electricity generated by nuclear power is also an important attraction.”
The training also offers a chance to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to any organization or system, under the project.
Usman said that energy is a fundamental effort to economic activities, along with land, labor and capital.
Usman said “So, we need energy in all its forms, including nuclear. Nuclear power, of course, should not be viewed as the only answer. We need to invest right across the board so that we can obtain more energy from other low-carbon sources. But we have to be realistic about what these can offer.”
“No renewable source yet has the capacity to generate the amount of power needed to run factories, steel mills, among others. As the world enters a global recession, cost is also an important factor. The new generation of nuclear reactors is cheaper than its predecessors and produces energy at a considerably lower cost than other low-carbon energy sources,” Usman said.
Usman added, “Nuclear power, for example, can be as much as three times cheaper than wind and five times cheaper than solar power. It is also a known fact that nuclear power emits virtually no greenhouse gases. The complete nuclear power chain, including the mining of uranium, shipping fuel, constructing plants and managing waste, produces about the same amount of carbon dioxide as the full life-cycle emissions of wind and solar power.
“The attraction of nuclear energy is supported by the improved performance of the nuclear energy industry since the 1980s. The world has now accumulated more than 13,000 reactor-years of experience. Improvements in safety have been matched by improvements in efficiency.”
IAEA representative, Daruisz Marchin, said that this regional training course provides opportunity for assessing the level of radiation safety infrastructure not only in Nigeria, but also as a whole in the region.
Shamsudeen Elegba, the director-general and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, was hopeful that knowledge gained from the course would be utilized to self-assess regulatory infrastructure in all the participating member-states and head to the development of regulatory infrastructure for radiation and nuclear safety in the region as a whole.
Elegba said, “the continuation of the project by organising this training workshop is indeed a welcome development for the objectives of the project to be fully met.”