President Yoweri Museveni has defended the nuclear power generation in Uganda, clarifying that the crisis of 2005 when a severe drought affected the hydro power generation at Owen Falls Dam in Jinja prompted him to direct the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to diversify the energy mix to ensure energy security for the country.
“In 2005, Uganda experienced drought that affected hydro electricity generation from Owen Falls Dam. As a result we resorted to expensive fossil powered plants to support the economy which prompted me to direct the Ministry of Energy and mineral Development to diversify the energy mix to develop all the available resources including nuclear energy as a means to address the electricity needs of the country,” the President said.
The President made the remarks Wednesday during the opening of the 2nd Africa Nuclear Business Platform Conference and Exhibition 2023 at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda. The conference running from 14th - 7th, March has attracted over 300 stakeholders from the domestic and international nuclear community.
Need for transparent partnerships
Museveni further noted that the sustainable development and the utilization of these resources necessitates establishing transparent and well-balanced partnership with key technology providers.
“Therefore, this meeting presents a very good opportunity for exploring areas of strategic collaborations between African countries pursuing nuclear energy development and nuclear energy providers in forging the way forward,” he observed.
While referring to the speech by the representative of the South Korean CEO of the Korean Hydro and Nuclear Company (KHNP), Cha Seop Kim who said Korea has made great strides in the nuclear development, Museveni pointed out that the people of Africa and Uganda in particular lack the mentality to initiate development programs citing Korea that was in the 1960’s poorer than some of the African countries, today has 25 nuclear power plants.
He said in 1986 Uganda was generating only 60 MW of electricity and the country will soon generate 2,100 MW of electricity observing that it will not be enough for the country's needs. He added that Uganda needs about 100,000MW of electricity.
Museveni also noted that the population destroys about 40 billion cubic meters of trees annually for heating and cooking. He said while trees grow easily it is not however the correct way to go.
Tactical ban on uranium
On uranium, the President reiterated his firm stand that the natural mineral will never be exported as it is needed for the generation of nuclear power.
“I halted the exportation of uranium because we need electricity for socio-economic development. The issue of Nuclear Power in Africa is a must, it is reliable. The option of nuclear power is a very wise one; we should not waste time on that,” he stressed.
Museveni further told delegates that the potential of rivers in Africa that include the Nile, Congo, Niger and Zambezi is about 300 MW and they are not reliable.
Centers at Soroti University
Museveni also witnessed the signing of the three (3) Memoranda of Understanding between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development officials and partners in the nuclear energy sector.
The first MOU was that of the establishment of a center of excellence at Soroti University and was signed by the Minister of State for Energy Okasai Opolot while the Vice Chancellor Professor Ikojja signed on behalf of the University.
The Second MOU was for the establishment of the center for Nuclear Science and Technology at Soroti University and was signed by the Vice President of IVAP SE Pablo Abbate on behalf of IVAP SE Group of Argentina and Okasai signed on behalf of the government of Uganda.
The 3rd MOU was for the development of a nuclear power plant in Uganda and was signed by Cha-seop Kim who was representing the CEO of South Korea's Hydro and Nuclear Power Company Dr. Joo-ho-Whanga.
Nuclear good option for accessing electricity
Earlier, the Prime Minister the Robinah Nabbanja said nuclear power is one of the options that will enable Uganda to achieve global goals of accessing electricity for all.
She added that potential sites for the construction of the plants have been identified one of them being in Buyende district. She thanked IAEA for the technical support in the feasibility studies.
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa, who was represented by the Minister of State for Energy Okaasai Sidronius Opolot, told the audience that nuclear power offers many advantages such as a reliable and stable energy supply to enable industrialisation and thus energy security.
Nuclear energy is clean energy
She added that the conference comes at the right time when the Government of Uganda has made the plans to incorporate nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, with an installation, currently standing at 1346MW mainly from Hydro.
The Deputy Director of IAEA Mikhail Chudakov pointed out that the clear alternative for clean energy is nuclear power that can lift many people in Africa from poverty.
Her said nuclear power can also mitigate the issue of climate change.