Ghana is exploring a nuclear energy programme in its power mix strategy, as it strives to become a major net exporter of energy in the West Africa sub region, the country’s deputy energy minister has said.
Alhaji Inusah Fuseini said the government has targeted the utilisation of nuclear power to supply adequate, reliable and affordable electricity for the sustainable development within the sub-region.
The intervention is geared towards increasing the total installation capacity of electricity generation in the country, currently at 2000 megawatts, to 5000 megawatts by 2015.
To meet the target, Fuseini speaking at a five-day international conference in Accra on “Cooperation and Networking for Nuclear Power Programme in Africa” on Monday, said the government would also leverage on the use of its available energy sources such as gas, large scale hydro and the renewable.
“In the long term, particularly 10 years and beyond, our energy needs are expected to far exceed the above set target as our commercial and industrial activities increase,” he said.
The conference is organised under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the African Regional (AFRA) in collaboration with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). It is aimed at strengthening collaboration and networking among member countries in order to maximize the use of available African infrastructure and expertise in nuclear power and related fields.
Fuseini said the utilisation of nuclear power involves careful planning to address major issues such as financing, siting, safety and human resource development.
Currently, he said, within the energy ministry, a nuclear power unit had been set up in collaboration with GAEC to deal with issues associated with the planning and implementation of the nuclear power programme.
The ministry is also taking steps to establish and inaugurate Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organisation (NEPIO) that will coordinate the activities of all stakeholder institutions involved with the planning of the nuclear power project as recommended by the IAEA.
The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission deputy director, Dr Kwame Aboh noted that nuclear power reactors construction worldwide had been on the increase. He said a total of 67 reactors were under construction, most of which are centered in Asia.
Opponents of nuclear power over the years have focused on and expressed concerns on the deficiencies in areas such as the inadequate human resource base, environmental safety and high construction cost of nuclear power plants.
But Aboh said Africa, in the era of competing development needs could overcome most of the concerns if it ensured better coordination and development of the required high level nuclear power personnel through appropriate educational programmes.
Dr Vincent Nkong-Njock of the IAEA stressed the need for political and technical leadership in the development of nuclear power and the importance of sustaining cooperation and networking among African member countries to harmonise inter-country nuclear power programmes.