Nuclear energy: Nigeria catching up with other African countries - NNRA

Nuclear energy: Nigeria catching up with other African countries - NNRA

- The Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority says Nigeria is catching up with other African countries in terms of nuclear regulatory system

- This was revealed by the director, radiological safety, NNRA, Professor Timothy Akpan

- Professor Akpan made the revelation after the International Atomic Energy Agency assessed NNRA recently

The Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) has revealed that Nigeria is catching up with other African countries in terms of nuclear regulatory system.

This was revealed by the director, radiological safety, NNRA, Professor Timothy Akpan, while speaking to The Punch.

Professor Akpan made the comment after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessed the performance and operational framework of the NNRA.

It was gathered that the IAEA also assessed the performances of nuclear regulators in other African countries during a four-day African regional coordinating meeting that was just concluded in Abuja.

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The assessment by the global atomic energy body was aimed at improving the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials in Nigeria and other countries.

Professor Akpan said: “The major issue is the level of the regulatory framework in Nigeria, as well as in the whole of Africa. The review was to look at the performances of the various regulatory bodies and to make sure that they improve, so that not only Nigeria, but Africa will move as a body in terms of nuclear regimes.

“The nuclear regulatory system keeps changing and you might be surprised that Nigeria is catching up with other African countries in this regard. The system changes and some innovations from different countries were brought after the meeting.

“In that regard Nigeria learnt a lot and has developed a lot of regulations and we are now in the stage of putting the whole thing into practice to ensure that the nuclear system when finally built in Nigeria will be a very strong one in terms of safety.”

On Nigeria’s partnership with Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy corporation renowned for construction of nuclear power plants, he explained that there were set milestones which Nigeria has to cross.

His words: “The construction of nuclear power in Nigeria is not a simple exercise. This, however, is not in the hands of the NNRA because we are directly in charge of safety regulation. The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission is responsible for nuclear power, but, of course, we should know what steps they are taking.

“So, yes Nigeria has an agreement with Rosatom. But the issue is not as straightforward as you may think because there are other things that need to be ironed out. These matters are being looked into and there are some set milestones which Nigeria has to cross and it is not too easy because our country is not a nuclear nation as such.”

On countries that participated at the nuclear regulatory assessment meeting in Abuja, Akpan stated that almost all African countries who were members of the IAEA were in attendance, including Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, etc.

He further stated that Nigeria had been a big consumer of nuclear energy, adding that the oil and gas sector was the greatest user of nuclear materials in the country, as a very large percentage of the licences issued by the NNRA for nuclear related matters were given to operators in the oil sector.

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Meanwhile, while Nigeria continues to work out modalities for the construction of a nuclear research centre and power plant with Russia, Zambia is steadily advancing efforts at actualising its nuclear energy goals with the European country.

Shadreck Luwita, Zambia's ambassador to Russia, recently revealed that the construction of a nuclear research reactor in Zambia with Russia's assistance through Rosatom, is expected to begin in 2019.

In February 2017, Russia and Zambia signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation on the construction of a nuclear science and technology center in Zambian.

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