Ghana is working assiduously to explore the feasibility of nuclear energy in its power mix, as it strives to become a major net exporter of energy to other West Africa States.
Thus, government’s intervention geared towards increasing the total installation capacity of electricity generation, currently at 2000 megawatt, to 5000 megawatt in 2015, has targeted the utilisation of nuclear power to supply adequate, reliable and affordable electricity for the sustainable development of both the country as well as the sub-region.
According to Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, Deputy Minister of Energy to meet this target, government has considered the use of 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 was addressing participants at the opening of a five-day meeting on “Cooperation and Networking for Nuclear Power Programme in Africa,” being organised under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the African Regional in collaboration with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).
The meeting is aimed at strengthening collaboration and networking among member countries in order to maximise the use of available African infrastructure and expertise in nuclear power and related fields.
Alhaji Fuseini however indicated that although nuclear power is one of the options being considered to play a significant role in the country’s energy sector, the utilization of nuclear power involves careful planning to address major issues such as financing, siting, safety and human resource development among other things.
He said the Ministry of Energy in collaboration with GAEC had taken the lead by setting up a Nuclear Power section at the Ministry, to deal with all the issues associated with the planning and implementation of a nuclear power programme.
Additionally, the Ministry is also taking the necessary steps to establish and inaugurate the Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organisation, which is to coordinate the activities of stakeholder institutions involved with the planning of the nuclear power project as recommended by the IAEA.
“It is therefore expected that in foreseeable future this energy option will be introduced into our energy mix to make effective contribution to our developmental efforts towards the achievement of the sustainable energy for all by 2030,” he said.
The Deputy Minister expressed the hope that the meeting will equip the participants with the necessary skills and ideas to enable them contribute effectively for the successful utilisation of nuclear power for the sustainable development of the continent.
Dr Kwame Aboh, Deputy Director General, GAEC, noted that the increasing requirement for the socio-economic development of Africa, coupled with the ever volatile prices of fossil fuels continue to be a major challenge.
He said opponents of nuclear power had focused on and expressed concern about the deficiencies in areas such as the inadequate human resource base, environmental safety and high construction cost of nuclear power plants.
He however argued that the African Region, in the era of dwindling and competing development needs can overcome most of the concerns and ensure better coordination and development of the required high level nuclear power personnel through appropriate educational programmes.
Dr Aboh said there should also be sharing of information and best practices to help African States to understand and develop and implement environmental programmes.
Dr Vincent Nkong-Njock, IAEA Local Representative, highlighted on issues such as the need for political and technical leadership in the development of nuclear power and stressed the importance of sustaining cooperation and networking among African member countries to ensure the harmonisation of inter-country nuclear power programmes and activities and ensure the development of sound inter-continental nuclear energy programmes.
He encouraged member countries to embrace themselves for the great task and challenges ahead since the successful development of nuclear power would propel the continent to its next level of development.
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