Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant
IAEA. Koeberg nuclear power station, Cape Town
The IAEA believes that nuclear power does have a role to play as part of a robust energy portfolio across Africa. Pic credit: Koeberg nuclear power station, Cape Town.

The UN nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), last week Monday said it will help African states cooperate in the development of nuclear sources for electricity generation.

Anne Starz, visiting IAEA Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, said in Nairobi that a number of African states have already expressed interest in the development of nuclear power.

As part of the mission, a team of 11 international nuclear energy experts are set to review Kenya's progress towards including nuclear energy into its energy mix.

Starz explained during the opening of the IAEA's Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission of Kenya's Nuclear Electricity Programme: "We will provide technical assistance as well as facilitate bilateral cooperation and learning among African countries."

IAEA to study Kenya’s programme

The IAEA mission will conduct a one-week study of Kenya's nuclear programme and is expected to deliver a report in three months.

Starz said nuclear energy is an obvious attraction for African countries that are keen to develop reliable sources of power that will allow them to grow their economies.

She stated that it is important for African countries to share their experiences as they seek to adopt nuclear energy.

Nuclear power in Africa

Currently, South Africa is the only African nation that is operating a nuclear power plant. Morocco has expressed interest to use nuclear power, while Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt have already taken the decision to use nuclear energy.

According to the IAEA, nuclear power does have a role to play as part of a robust energy portfolio across Africa.

The nuclear agency will advise African states on the international standards and best practice, but it will be national regulators that will oversee the individual country’s nuclear power programmes.

Starz added that nuclear power is a sovereign national decision that requires a commitment of at least 100 years.

Kenya’s commitment to nuclear power

Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) executive chairman Ochilo Ayacko said that develop of nuclear power involves three phases.

Kenya has concluded a pre-feasibility study and self-evaluation, and is about to complete the first phase.

KNEB said the actual commencement date of nuclear electricity generation will be based on meeting all international standards.

Ayacko stated: "We anticipate the first power plant to be operational in 2023."

Kenya’s generation capacity

Kenya's Principal Secretary for Energy and Petroleum Joseph Njoroge said that countries with similar population and size as Kenya require between 45,000 to 50,000MW against current generation of 2,200MW.

Njoroge explained that Kenya's geothermal potential is 20,000MW, while electricity from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower depends on many factors such as weather.