In 15 years to come, Uganda will start using nuclear resources to produce energy to supplement the available sources of energy that are currently used. This is according to Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Eng. Irene Nafuna Muloni.
However this dream is sabotaged by threats that surround nuclear energy development like safety and security.
If not handled properly, nuclear energy can be destructive to the health of millions of people as well as the environment. In addition, to safely produce nuclear energy for public use on a large scale is quite expensive hence limiting its advantages.
These and more are among the issues that are being discussed at the 5-day African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research (AFRA) conference which is underway at the Speke resort Munyonyo.
The 28th annual meeting which is the first to be held in Uganda since the formation of AFRA in 1990 has attracted government officials and technocrats from the 32 AFRA countries with the aim of deliberating on regional challenges to provide solutions using nuclear techniques in areas of energy planning, disease management, agriculture and strengthening nuclear sector.
While addressing the meeting at the opening ceremony, Minister Muloni noted that although there are many challenges that surround the nuclear sector, Uganda is committed to tap from nuclear power as a way of boosting Hydro Electricity, which is limited.
“Hydro Electricity remains our main source of energy at the moment; however this will not be enough to sail us to the industrialized economy that we are all planning for in 2040,” Muloni said.
“We have already signed agreements with Russia and other countries that have expertise in the use of nuclear energy and we are convinced that in the next 15 years, Uganda will have started using nuclear energy on a big scale.”
Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who officiated the function said that now is the time for Africa to use its nuclear resource to develop their economies and shift from the under developed status that it has been in for centuries.
He also noted that issues of safety and security were already being handled with the introduction of the Uganda Atomic Energy Council which regulates atomic nuclear use and development.
“We are currently training scientists who will help in the safety development of the nuclear sector. I am informed that AFRA with support form IAEA is also looking to recruit potential young scientist from different countries for safety and security training in nuclear development,” Rugunda said.
He added that currently “we have seen the advantages of atomic nuclear in the treatment of cancer, and the government is already building 6 atomic bankers at the cancer institute and also waiting for the restoration of the radio therapy machine that will be here son to help our cancer patients.” Mickel Edwerd, the director division for Africa AFRA focal point at IAEA said that AFRA was facing challenges of funding and asked member countries to make their contributions in time so that the nuclear sector can fully be developed.
The meeting which will go on up to July 21 is organized by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development with support from IAEA.
In the summit, there will also be a review of the achievements under AFRA, deliberation on AFRA polices and programs and further improvement on the management of technical cooperation program in Africa.