The finest alternative energy source, in Africa, is nuclear energy

Jon Aldous 기자 승인 2023.09.20 11:50 | 최종 수정 2023.09.21 14:16 의견 0

Nigeria, often referred to as the giant of Africa, was notably absent from discussions held in St Petersburg, Russia, where African leaders convened to explore the potential of nuclear power in addressing the continent's ongoing energy challenges. Representatives from other nations unanimously agreed on the suitability of nuclear energy as a viable alternative to hydroelectric power for illuminating Africa. They emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in driving comprehensive reforms in their respective power sectors through nuclear energy.

These discussions took place during a session titled "Nuclear technologies for the development of the African continent" at the Russia-Africa Economic Forum in St Petersburg, Russia. Prominent panelists who reached this consensus included Alexey Likhachev, Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM; Ibrahim Uwizeye, Minister of Hydraulics, Energy, and Mining of Burundi; Doto Mashaka Biteko, Minister of Minerals of Tanzania; Zhemu Soda, Minister of Energy and Power Development of Zimbabwe; Amged El-Wakeel, Chairman of the Board of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority of Egypt; Fidele Ndahayo, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Atomic Energy Board; and Princess Mthombeni, Founder of Africa4Nuclear and a Nuclear Communication and Technology Specialist from South Africa.

Regarding the absence of Nigeria from such a critical discussion, given the country's pressing energy situation, the event's organizers explained that relevant Nigerian agencies did not respond to the invitation.

Throughout the session, leaders highlighted the benefits of nuclear energy in driving wealth creation, enhancing energy efficiency, achieving technology sovereignty, and advancing medical applications. For instance, El Wakeel shared how nuclear energy has positively impacted Egypt in areas such as clean water, healthcare, agriculture, and electricity generation. Despite these advantages, Egypt still seeks to further advance its economy using nuclear technology.

In the case of Rwanda, Fidele Ndahayo noted that the country has nearly achieved universal access to electricity, largely through hydroelectric power. However, due to the reliability challenges associated with hydroelectricity, Rwanda is considering the integration of nuclear energy to sustain its energy progress. Ndahayo emphasized that nuclear energy has the potential to support various sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, education, and technology development. Rwanda is particularly interested in embracing small modular nuclear technologies and aims to be at the forefront of their development rather than playing catch-up in the future.

Tanzania: One of the exciting prospects for Tanzania, as expressed by Biteko, is its wealth of uranium, a crucial element in nuclear energy production. He envisions that this technology will significantly contribute to Tanzania's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), aiming to increase it by at least 10 percent through technology-driven growth. Tanzania welcomes collaboration with interested parties to be part of its growth journey. Additionally, the country intends to leverage uranium to enhance various sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and education, while also addressing youth unemployment and improving overall living standards.

Burundi: Ibrahim Uwizeye highlighted the pressing issue of electricity deficit in Burundi, where less than 20 percent of the population has access to electricity. The existing hydroelectric power sources are insufficient to meet the country's energy needs, making it challenging to attract industrial investments. Uwizeye expressed a warm welcome to Rosatom for potential investments in the energy sector, emphasizing that improving power generation is the first step toward addressing development challenges and fostering wealth creation in Burundi.

Alexey Likhachev's Response: In response, Alexey Likhachev underscored Russia's commitment to supporting Africa in achieving energy sufficiency. He emphasized Russia's willingness to engage in intergovernmental cooperation and assured that when Russia collaborates with African nations, it will also develop programs that empower those countries with technology sovereignty. He stressed that Russia aims to enable countries to have a high level of participation in shared initiatives, ensuring technology independence.

South Africa: Princess Mthombeni advocated for a change in the narrative surrounding nuclear energy, emphasizing its critical role in the development of countries worldwide. She urged African leaders to reconsider any negative perceptions about nuclear energy and recognize it as a vital driver of development. Mthombeni suggested that resistance to nuclear energy may be influenced by certain European countries heavily invested in hydroelectric power, which could be manipulating narratives against nuclear power. She called for alternative media efforts to counter such narratives and raise awareness about the potential of nuclear energy to unlock economic growth and wealth creation in African economies.

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