Uganda Hosts Africa Nuclear Experts Meeting Top story


In short
Experts from several African countries are in Uganda to discuss how to safely apply nuclear technology in agriculture, energy generation and medication.

Experts from several African countries are in Uganda to discuss how to safely apply  nuclear technology in agriculture, energy generation and medication. 

The meeting in Kampala is also attended by experts from International Atomic Energy Agency( IAEA), which supports safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology. The mention raises fear about nuclear weapons and threats to the environment but some participants at the meeting insist that the nuclear technology, once safely applied, can be used to address a range of problems especially energy.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, while opening the meeting on Monday, said Uganda is committed to applying nuclear technology only for safe applications.

There are fears that Uganda could be preparing itself for nuclear weapons but Dr. Rugunda and Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni insist that the country plans to harness its uranium for safe and peaceful use. 

Engineer Muloni told journalists outside the conference hall at Munyonyo that apprehension that has existed whenever nuclear is mentioned should not deter countries that intend to use it in peaceful applications. The Ministry of Energy plans to utilise uranium presence in the country for power generation.
The government's Nuclear Power Road-map Development Strategy adopted by cabinet envisages to have 2000 Megawatts of electricity by 2031.
AF-Consult Switzerland estimates that Uganda would spend 744.8 trillion Shillings in capital and operating costs if it is to generate 30,000 Megawatts from nuclear as outlined in the Uganda Vision 2040.

But Muloni was non-committal when asked about the cost related to adopting nuclear technology in Energy. She however noted that a number of countries are exploring the adoption of nuclear especially for power generation.

She says Uganda is cooperating with countries like Russia, South Korea, China and agencies like IAEA on how to acquire technology for safe and peaceful application of nuclear. 

Nuclear-related activities are regulated under the Atomic Energy Act 2008 which provides for a framework for use of ionising radiation to develop nuclear power generation.
Uganda is a member of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA)

Countries in the Africa region in 1988 requested IAEA to help them establish a regional arrangement for cooperation in the field of nuclear science and technology, similar to arrangements already existing in Asia and Latin America.
AFRA aims at maximising the utilisation of available infrastructure and expertise in Africa in the field of nuclear science and technology. It also wants to accelerate regional self-sufficiency in the peaceful applications of nuclear techniques.

The meeting being hosted by Uganda this week is a follow up to the one held in Egypt in 2016. It is expected that experts will agree on strategies of enlarging the contribution of nuclear science and technology to social welfare, health and energy using Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).