By Our Senior Correspondent

Uganda will employ a participatory approach to its national nuclear power programme to gain stakeholders’ acceptance and also make use of the existing expertise within government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in a concerted effort to allay the citizens fears about the potential dangers portending to these important alternative energy sources , Minister of State for |Energy Hon. Sidronius Okaasi Opolot has said.

He was speaking at the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Mission to Uganda –now ongoing at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

The review mission is being attended by among others technical staff at the Ministry of Energy led by the Under Secretary and Accounting Officer ,Mr. Emmanuel Freddie Mugunga , Commissioner -Ms. Sarah Nafuna who is the  head of nuclear energy docket at the ministry , MPs led by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources , Dr. Emmanuel Otala , Civil Society Representative Mr. Godber Tumushabe and the Chairman  Atomic Energy Council-Mr. Akisophel Kisolo.

In a speech he read on behalf of the Minister of Energy , Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa who is away in Dar es Salaam   attending the high level – first Tanzania-Uganda Oil and Gas Symposium, Hon Okaasai said that because of the importance government attaches to the national nuclear energy program for peaceful and development purposes-a  Cabinet Standing Committee and the Steering Committee was established to provide leadership for the working groups established under the Strategy which include; the Policy, Legal and Regulatory Infrastructure Working Group (PLRIWG), the Siting and Technology Deployment Working Group (STDWG) and the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG).

Okaasai noted the progress so far made and said Uganda was now working  towards the development of a national infrastructure for nuclear power .

He said that at least eight  Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) potential sites have been identified and out of those Buyende and Nakasongola ranked highest with suitable- rock-landscape that is needed for a solid , secure base for a nuclear facility . Other areas that have been considered for these national nuclear facilities include Lamo, Kasandaand Kiruhura, according to Mr. Baguma Sabiiti  a senior Nuclear Energy officer at the Energy Ministry.

Okaasai said that Uganda has set an ambiguous target of 2031 to have nuclear energy generation in Uganda. This is the very reason why a high powered delegation from the IAEA will spend the entire week in Uganda on an –integrated nuclear infrastructure review (INIR) mission to assess the state of Uganda’s national nuclear infrastructure according to the conditions desired in the IAEA. The mission is also interested to identify areas needing further actions to ensure nuclear power infrastructure readiness.

Minister Okaasai led the IAEA to an exhibition where Ugandans technocrats showcased the developments in the Energy sector

So far , Uganda has completed a study on integrating nuclear power in the electricity generation capacity plan 2015-2040 and among the recommendations is the generation of  2000MW of nuclear power starting 2031, identified nuclear reactor technology options, nuclear fuel cycle options and, funding and financing options.

It should be noted that developing a nuclear power program creates both national and international concerns.

Under Secretary and Accounting Officer At Energy Ministry Mr. Emmanuel Mugunga who stood in for the PS Eng. Irene Bateebe who is also in Dar for the Oil Symposium said that since the enactment of Atomic Energy Act, 2002, the contribution of nuclear science and technology to social and economic development has increased in the areas of health, agriculture, industry and research which all contribute to national development.

Mugunga told the meeting that  nuclear energy will play an important role in Uganda’s  future energy mix. “Uganda adopted the IAEA milestone phased approach for the development of national infrastructure for nuclear power. This approach considers three  phases which include -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.

He said that significant progress has been made under phase one towards the development of national infrastructure the reason why IAEA delegation is in Kampala to make an independent assessment .

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