This past Monday, Russia and Uganda signed a first-of-its-kind agreement for the development of uranium into nuclear power. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Uganda’s state minister for minerals, Simon D’Ujanga, and Russia’s deputy director general of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Nikolai Spasskiy, in Moscow.
“The memorandum is the first agreement in the area of peaceful uses of atomic energy to be signed between the countries. It envisages the bilateral cooperation in wide range of spheres, i.e. development of nuclear infrastructure in Uganda, programmes for raising public awareness of nuclear technologies and its application, radioisotopes and radiation technologies’ application in industrial, medical, agricultural sectors,” reports a local press release.
The pact will allow Uganda and Russia to collaborate toward developing nuclear energy in Africa. The Russian nuclear firm, Rosatom, has vowed to participate in a transparent and competitive bidding process toward Africa’s nuclear energy expansion. The joint working group will define the scope of work needed for its initiatives.
Uganda isn’t the only African country interested in nuclear power. After years of exporting uranium to other countries, several African nations have expressed interest in developing nuclear resources at home. Currently Africa does not generate enough electricity, which is hobbling economic growth for the entire continent. The Africa Progress Panel estimates that as many as 600 million people across the continent do not have access to reliable power and massive investments will need to be be made to remedy the situation.
Nuclear energy has emerged as a prominent solution to Africa’s energy woes, bringing greater reliability than wind or solar energy with fewer greenhouse emissions. Several African nations have expressed interest in growing nuclear power and many of them have access to significant uranium deposits.
“Nuclear power is considered a prominent alternative and a more environmentally beneficial solution since it emits far less greenhouse gases during electricity generation than coal or other traditional power plants,” Ogbonnaya Onu, Nigeria’s minister of science and technology, told local media in December. “It is a manageable source of generating electricity and has large power-generating capacity that can meet industrial and city needs.”
In February of last year, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma announced that South Africa plans to add 9,600 MW of nuclear energy over the next years. South Africa is currently the only country Africa nation to develop nuclear power generation. The plant, located in Koeberg, generates 5% of the country’s energy each year.