By Emmanuel Elebeke
President Mohammadu Buhari has said Nigeria would explore nuclear energy to generate electricity.
He also expressed unwavering commitment of his administration to energy mix through acquisition of nuclear power.
The President spoke at the just concluded International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century held in Washington DC.
According to him, the Federal Government has activated the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, as the national focal agency charged with the responsibility of developing the framework and technical pathway to explore, exploit and harness atomic energy for peaceful applications for the socio-economic development of the country.
He said Nigeria had also established the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority as an independent agency of government to ensure the safety of humans and the protection of the environment in the process of development, deployment and use of nuclear power.
Buhari, who spoke through the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, said like most other nations on the continent, Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, had a serious energy supply deficit, making it compelling for the government to critically look towards other energy options that were affordable, more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Consequently, he disclosed that Nigeria had taken a decision to fully explore and harness nuclear energy resources for the generation of electricity, which would contribute to the country’s energy security through an appropriate energy mix
‘‘With the Small Modular Reactor, SMR, technology evolving, Nigeria sees this as a future game-changer in the nuclear industry and looks forward to a greater engagement with the IAEA and other global partners in the coming months and years to discuss the possibility of deploying SMRs in the country.
‘‘Several countries in Africa have genuine aspirations for industrialization and growth but the lack of reliable and sustainable base-load energy constitutes serious impediment.
‘‘Despite all the good policies formulated by African countries, the attainment of real growth and development has remained a mirage due to energy inadequacy. The possibility of nuclear power is now providing African countries with a better alternative for energy generation.
‘‘In this regard, Nigeria is currently engaged in discussions with some countries and vendors for our nuclear power project. Two potential sites for Nigeria’s nuclear power plant have been identified and necessary processes are being undertaken under the Integrated Nuclear Power Programme of Nigeria with the IAEA,” Buhari said.
While expressing Nigeria’s appreciation to DG Grossi and the entire staff of the IAEA as well as the leadership of the Nuclear Energy Agency, NEA, and other partners for arrangements put in place for the conference, the President assured of Nigeria’s full support and cooperation towards the attainment of the goals and objectives of the conference.