As Nigeria attains Milestone 1 of three milestone approach
By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE InternationalÂ Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday that it is fully in support of the countryâ€™s ambitions to build a nuclear power plant to meet its growing energy needs.
The position of the agency was conveyed by the representative of the Director-General of IAEA, Dr. Vincent Nkong-Njock, who spoke at the official presentation of the Strategic Plan for the Implementation of the National Nuclear Power Programme, in Abuja .
According to him, the implementation of a complex programme such as a nuclear power project, over a long time scale, and requiring investment of huge national resources in time, finance and human resources, is a major national undertaking requiring careful planning and preparation, thus the development of the National Strategic Plan.
Nkong-Njock noted that, â€œThe development of an appropriate infrastructure to sustain the introduction of nuclear power is an issue of primal importance and should be painstakingly developed, exercising the necessary caution.
â€œThis entails the provision of the necessary resources including human, financial and logistic, to create the appropriate technological, economic and social conditions that will adequately support the establishment of sustainable national infrastructure able to absorb a nuclear power plant.â€
He added that the finalization of the Strategic Plan marks an important step in the development of the project as it ensures that the country is capable to timely develop and implement a commercial nuclear power programme in complete transparency, with the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation.
He observed that the increasing demand for electricity required for greater economic growth for competitiveness among the comity of nations and other environmental considerations has led Nigeria to consider nuclear power as an option within the nationâ€™s energy mix.
â€œReliable energy supply is the cornerstone of sustained economic growth and prosperity. People are looking for available, affordable and acceptable energy,â€ he stated.
Nkong-Njock also pointed out that in order to ensure the success and sustainability of the project, it would require that the programme be amenable to regular assessment, review and appropriate fine_tuning.
â€œIn this connection, the IAEA recommend that the country should consider self_assessing regularly the progress of the programme as well as consider cooperation and partnership with other countries that possess such a programme through a well-worked out peer-review mission,â€ he said.
He said a significant work has been done and the Nigerian nuclear power is progressing well. â€œThe IAEA, therefore, shares the view considering that the Nigerian Nuclear Power programme has reached Milestone 1 as per the IAEA Milestone Approach.
He added that the country is now ready to undertake the significant work necessary to prepare for ordering its first nuclear power plant.
â€œThe IAEA commends Nigeria for the progress in establishing the basic infrastructure to support a nuclear power programme and encourage the country to continue in its efforts, particularly in further improving coordination and supervision of nuclear power introduction activities at the national level,â€ he stated.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, noted that the implementation of the national nuclear programme has become necessary to diversify the nationâ€™s sources of energy.
He said, â€œThis government believes that our national nuclear programme will serve as an important component in addressing our general and overall energy challenges, bearing in mind that without adequate power, all the development we envisage will never materialize.â€
Mark, however, warned that the nation must not rest on its oars with the achievement of the first milestone in the three milestone approach prescribed by the IAEA.
â€œWe must not rest on our oars; we must not be complacent and we must ensure that this is not another failed project, not a paper or white elephant project,â€ he warned.