By Our Senior Writer
Safe Nuclear power is one of the options that will enable Uganda achieve the global goals of universal access to affordable and clean energy for all by 2030 as spelt out in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 7, Uganda’s Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister without portfolio the Rt. Hon. Rukia Nakadama, has said.
Hon. Nakadama was closing the one week International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission to Uganda which has been held at Speke Resort Munyonyo in the capital Kampala.
TheMission was a peer review mechanism under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Milestones Approach through which the IAEA assists member states to assess the status of their national infrastructure for the introduction of safe – nuclear power in Uganda.
In line with these goals, the country seeks to provide sufficient electricity needed to meet the national development targets set out in the country’s Vision 2040.
The Deputy Premier said that the mission has come at the right time when government under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) manifesto and the National Development Plan (NDP III) 2020/21 – 2024/25 is pursuing approvals for construction of a nuclear power generation plant to increase power generation capacity.
“The development of the Uganda nuclear power programme employs a participatory approach involving Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) constituted into working Groups to spearhead technical studies. I applaud the government officers for their strong commitment towards developing Uganda’s Nuclear Power Programme,” she added.
Nakadama applauded IAEA for the technical support towards Uganda nuclear infrastructure development. “I also recognise the interest of other development partners in the nuclear power project. In line with your just concluded assessment of Uganda’s readiness and the draft Energy Policy; we hope that we shall enhance the legal and institutional framework for nuclear energy to strengthen promotion and regulation of the sub-sector in accordance with international Treaties, Conventions, Agreements and Protocols”.
The Deputy Prime Minister expressed confidence that the attendant legislation will among other things provide for: transfer of nuclear technology; establishment of nuclear power plants and nuclear research reactors; nuclear safety, nuclear security, nuclear material safeguards, civil nuclear liability, emergency preparedness of nuclear facilities, radioactive waste and spent fuel management; and strengthening existing institutions to provide for training.
In remarks made on her behalf by the State Minister for Energy Hon.Sidronius Okaasai Opolot, the Energy Minister Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa told the nation that cabinet in April 2015 approved the Nuclear Power Roadmap Development Strategy 2014 – 2016 to guide the development of the nuclear power infrastructure, the financial and human resources that are required by government and other stakeholders to develop and commission the first power plant in Uganda by 2031.
Hon Nankabirwa said that she was happy to note that the just concluded one week IAEA Review Mission has essentially given Uganda a “green light” to proceed with the development of its national safe nuclear energy program.
The Minister emphasised that Uganda recognizes the importance of nuclear safety, security and safeguards in the development of her nuclear energy for power generation and other peaceful purposes.
She said during the review mission -the International Atomic Energy Agency experts have conducted an independent audit of Uganda’s nuclear infrastructure and recommended increased awareness of the requirements for construction of the first nuclear power plant by all national stakeholders; enhanced technical assistance towards the development of the nuclear power infrastructure from the IAEA and other development partners.
Other recommendations include increased readiness towards construction and operation of the first nuclear power plant.
“The mission has indeed given Uganda a green light to progress to the implementation phase after assessing and finding satisfactory its preparations to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear in Uganda, not just for electricity generation but to also cover other areas like health, agriculture, food security and radiation safety,” Nankabirwa added.
The Permanent Secretary who is the lead technocrat at the Energy Ministry -Eng. Irene Pauline Bateebe explained that Uganda adopted the IAEA milestone phased approach for the development of its national infrastructure for nuclear power to ensure safety and compliance to the international legal commitments .
This approach ,Eng.Bateebe said , considers three phases that include phase one – understanding commitments, obligations and resource requirements before embarking on nuclear project, phase two- building specialized nuclear institutions and preparatory work towards construction and phase three- managing construction and preparing for commissioning and operation.
Eng.Bateebe highlighted the ssignificant progress that has been made under phase one since 2010- towards the development of national infrastructure for nuclear power -where the country has undertaken a pre-feasibility studies for launching the first nuclear power plant which was completed in 2017. Uganda has since 2018 embarked on establishing basic nuclear infrastructure.
“Uganda should continue to develop and finalize its action plan with timescales for the development and enactment of its nuclear legislation and other laws that may have an impact on its nuclear power programme,” Eng. Bateebe stated adding that consideration should be given to the relevant international legal instruments, IAEA Safety Standards and Nuclear Security Series, as appropriate.
Earlier the Commissioner Nuclear Energy at the Energy Ministry Ms.Sarah Nafuna gave a detailed back ground to the development of Uganda Nuclear program and the roadmap that was approved by cabinet and thanked President Yoweri Museveni for supporting the Ministry and providing the resources to ensure the successful implementation of Uganda nuclear energy agenda .
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