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Uganda committed to developing nuclear power to help meet its future energy needs

20th March 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has reaffirmed his government’s policy of including nuclear power in the country’s future energy mix, World Nuclear News has reported.

He was addressing the second Africa Nuclear Business Platform conference, which was held in the country’s capital, Kampala, last week. The conference also saw Uganda sign two international memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on nuclear cooperation and development.

“In 2005, Uganda experienced drought that affected hydro electricity generation from Owen Falls Dam,” he highlighted. “As a result, we resorted to expensive fossil-powered plants to support the economy which prompted me to direct the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to diversify the energy mix to develop all the available resources, including nuclear energy, as a means to address the electricity needs of the country.”

The East African country generated only 60 MW of electricity in 1986. Soon, Uganda’s generating capacity will reach 2 100 MW but, Museveni said, that would still not be enough to meet the country’s needs. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development had a generation target of 3 668 kWh per capita, by 2040. It had calculated that even fully developing the country’s varied actual and potential energy sources – biomass, geothermal, hydro, and peat, among others – would not allow the country to reach this target.

The addition of nuclear into the national energy mix would provide the electricity needed to allow the country to industrialise, while also ensuring energy security. In its endeavours, Uganda was receiving assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). For example, in 2021 the country hosted an IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission, which evaluated the state of development of Uganda’s nuclear infrastructure.

The country has since made progress in meeting the legislative and regulatory requirements laid out by the IAEA. And three potential sites for a 1 000 MW nuclear power plant (NPP) have been identified.

“The issue of nuclear power in Africa is a must, it is reliable,” affirmed Museveni. "The option of nuclear power is a very wise one; we should not waste time on that.”

Uganda was also analysing its own uranium resources, as a component of its long-term energy planning. In this, it was also being aided by the IAEA, under the agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme. But the country did not plan to export the energy metal. “I halted the exportation of uranium because we need electricity for socioeconomic development,” said the President.

One of the MoUs signed at the conference was between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and, on the one hand, Uganda’s Soroti University and, on the other, Argentinian nuclear (and other high) technology company INVAP. This covers the establishment of a nuclear research centre at Soroti University. (Soroti and INVAP are already cooperating on the setting up of a nuclear training centre at the university.)

The second MoU was signed between the Ministry and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP). Under this, the two organisations will cooperate in the design, construction and operation of NPPs.

“Through cooperation with Africa, we will do our best to contribute to the supply of low-carbon energy, which will be the future growth engine of Africa, with Korean [NPP] and smart nuclear power technology,” assured KHNP CEO Hwang Joo-ho in his speech at the conference.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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