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Nuclear “worth looking at” for African countries

Nuclear can help Africa generate the energy its people need for economic prosperity, while helping to meet the dual challenge of rapidly growing energy demand and concerns for the environment, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has said this week.

Governments across Africa are devising policies to become middle-income countries in the medium term. Socioeconomic growth comes with a rise in energy demand and a need to secure a reliable and sustainable energy supply, while countries with sufficient electricity supply face the dual challenge of a rapidly growing energy demand and concerns for the environment, Grossi said at Africa Nuclear Business Platform’s ANBP Lite conference on 19 April.

Over one billion people in the world have no access to electricity, and two-thirds of those live in Africa, he said. “Access to clean, reliable and affordable energy is a precondition for raising living standards and improving human well-being. Energy affects health care, education and job opportunities, among others. And this is why nuclear power is becoming an attractive option for several countries in Africa in need of a clean, reliable and cost-effective source of energy.

“Of the nearly 30 so-called newcomer countries that are embarking [on] or considering nuclear power, almost one-third are in Africa. Why are countries in Africa looking at nuclear? Very simple. The reasons vary, but they all come back to one word: reliability,” he said.

For many countries in Africa with access to electricity, Grossi said, supply remains ‘spotty’, with frequent outages. Reliable supply and resilient grids could help countries across the continent where strong increases in energy demand are predicted in the coming years.

Establishing a successful nuclear power programme is a major undertaking and requires establishing the necessary nuclear infrastructure, a legal and regulatory framework, competent institutions and a skilled workforce, Grossi said. This takes time, effort and government commitment from programme planning to decommissioning and waste management. “This is where the IAEA can help, by providing guidance, advice, training and review services towards a safe and secure use of nuclear power,” he said.

“Today, we are faced with the challenges of a global pandemic, addressing climate change and ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future for all. The world needs not only energy, but it needs clean, reliable, sustainable energy.

“Nuclear power is a present solution. It is also a future energy alternative. It may not be for everyone. But for many countries in Africa, it is an option worth looking at.”

Source: World Nuclear News