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Kenya progressing steadily on nuclear infrastructure plans

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Kenya has made progress in implementing their recommendations from an earlier IAEA nuclear infrastructure review mission.

The IAEA made a follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission in early June. It assessed the country’s progress on recommendations from a 2015 INIR mission, using the opportunity to exchange information on the way forward and clarify outstanding issues.

Back in 2015, the INIR mission made 15 recommendations and 8 suggestions meant to boost Kenya’s progress in developing its infrastructure. It reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 1 criteria from of the IAEA’s Milestone’s Approach, which provides detailed guidance across three phases of development (consider, prepare, construct). Phase 1 evaluates the readiness of a country to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme.

The 2021 follow-up mission was organised in a hybrid format with two IAEA experts travelling to Kenya and two international experts from Ireland and Spain participating virtually.

Team leader Eric Mathet, operational lead of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section, said: “Kenya made considerable efforts to address all the recommendations and suggestions made by the INIR team in 2015. The preparatory work needed to inform the government’s decision has progressed.”

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Kenya, Africa’s seventh largest economy, is considering the introduction of nuclear power to help meet growing energy demand. The Kenyan Ministry of Energy has proposed the potential use of nuclear energy for power generation. In 2019, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board was renamed the Kenya Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) as it started preparations to develop a country nuclear power programme.

Progress on Kenya nuclear programme

The follow-up INIR team noted progress in areas including:

  • Kenya developed the National Nuclear Policy and the National Policy and Strategy for Safety to enable the Government to make an informed decision on whether to introduce nuclear power.
  • The country enacted a national nuclear law and established a regulatory body with clear responsibilities for safety, security and safeguards.
  • The Government completed an assessment of the national legal framework and identified other laws needing review.
  • The Government enhanced the coordination among its key stakeholders in the development of its nuclear power programme.
  • The team said that further work is needed in areas such as the development of a nuclear leadership programme and the ratification of international conventions in the area of nuclear safety.

Engineer Collins G Juma, NuPEA CEO and national liaison officer: ‘‘The follow-up INIR Mission has given a big impetus to the Nuclear Power Programme for the country and therefore sets in place a new phase in the Milestone Approach. The next steps call for greater efforts by all stakeholders in ensuring that Kenya becomes a knowledgeable customer and is ready to invite bids for the first nuclear power plant.’’

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.