Moscow, October 24, 2019 (CABNC): The ‘Contribution of Nuclear Technologies in the Development of Africa’ panel has played a key role in the Creating Joint Projects track for the business programme. Session participants, including Director-General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM Alexey Likhachev, Head of the Zambia Atomic Energy Agency Roland Msiska, and Minister of Innovation and Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Getahun Mekuria Kuma along with other representatives of related ministries and corporations, discussed nuclear technology and its capability and role in the development of the continent.
Rapid population growth and an escalating energy crisis hamper growth in Africa. The absence of quality transport infrastructure and proper access to health services along with poor education and food security levels keep Africa from improving quality of life. A large-scale action plan based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals is needed to resolve these problems. Nuclear technology, with its predictable final product price, guaranteed supply of reliable energy, and absence of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy production process, could potentially drive socio-economic development and serve as a comprehensive solution to the continent’s systemic woes.
Key Discussions from the plenary session
Russia and Africa are connected by a long-term partnership in nuclear energy
The Director-General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Alexey Likhachev expatiated on a partnership which already exists between Africa and Russia. He said “Our specialists have been working on the African continent for several decades. In recent years, this work has been given a new boost both in terms of its form and content”
“Historically, Russia has been working very closely with the African continent in nuclear technologies. This relationship has existed for more than 55 years”, said Khethiwe Nkuna, Head of Corporate Citizenship and Inclusion and Diversity Lead at Accenture.
“We have fully established the regulatory framework with a third of African countries, all the way up to the contractual framework. Half of them already have and are actively discussing specific joint projects with us, which are stipulated in a contract”, Likhachev said.
Nuclear technologies are an integral component for effective development
“Today, we not only possess nuclear technologies but are also doing everything we can to increase the role of nuclear technologies in the technological landscape of the future”, Likhachev said.
“Nuclear technologies are a very important tool in the development and drafting of sustainable development goals”, said Najat Mokhtar, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“We have a dream: we want to become a highly developed country by 2035 and a country with a high standard of living by 2050. Nuclear energy should be the main driver for achieving the goals facing our country”, said Claver Gatete, Minister of Infrastructure of the Republic of Rwanda.
“There are other aspects of nuclear technologies that have made us pay great attention to them. These include modern technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of things. All this is our future and where we should be heading. These technologies are very important to us, especially in the mining sector”, said Roland Msiska, Head of the Zambia Atomic Energy Agency.
Demand for nuclear energy is steadily increasing
“We are seeing a steady increase in demand for nuclear energy because we have industrialization and urbanization, the population is growing, and the government is striving to improve the quality of life of the Egyptian people. These have all become important factors in the development of our nuclear programme”, said Amged El-Wakeel, Chairman of the Board of the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plants Authority.
“Egypt recognizes the importance of nuclear energy as an important component in the energy balance”, El-Wakeel said.
“If you look just at our losses in agriculture, it’s around 30% every year. Nuclear technology will fix this”, Msiska said.
“One fifth of Africans have food shortages today, and technology can help in this. We need to use new technologies that can lead to the greater productivity of certain food crops”, Mokhtar said.
“We must ensure our food security. Accordingly, we need food products that we can eat on our own and export them in accordance with international standards. I don’t know how we could avoid the use of nuclear energy in this process”, Gatete said.
Energy shortage in Africa
“We believe that demand for nuclear technologies is most acute on the African continent in particular […]. The challenges that we usually work with and respond to are the most acute in African countries and require immediate solutions. The continent, which is among the richest in terms of mineral reserves, has an energy shortage today, and in some countries this deficit is catastrophic”, Likhachev said.
Lack of necessary funding
“Nuclear energy is reliable, clean, and safe. The only obstacle to the expansion of nuclear energy in Africa is the lack of adequate funding”, El-Wakeel said.
Development of a strategic partnership
“We have a lack of nuclear energy. We are very happy that today our government signed an agreement with Rosatom. We have concluded an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in nuclear technologies. The main reason that we have signed this agreement is that we will install an experimental reactor, and this will require certain personnel and support”, said Getahun Mekuria Kuma, Minister of Innovation and Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
“We realized that it is essential to find a strategic partner who can help us get through the necessary processes. That is why we reached out to Rosatom”, Msiska said.
Establishing an environment of mutual trust and responsibility
“There will never be any development in international relations or in the economy if there is no meaningful desire to offer one’s own direction for development or if the receiving party has no desire to implement this in concert and in the format of political trust in one another. In this case, these two signals coincide”, Likhachev said.