Uganda is the third economy of the East-African region after Kenya and Tanzania. Within the period between 1992 to 2010, Ouganda has seen an average economic growth of 8%, GDP per capita tripled and the poverty rate was halved. In 2018, GDP grew by 5.9%, reflecting improved weather conditions (end of the drought period), a recovery in consumption and low oil prices. Growth is expected to continue through 2019 and 2020, with GDP growth of 6.1% and 6.2% respectively. Uganda’s electricity mix is constituted mainly from hydro 645MW and thermal of 101.5 MW, the installed capacity is amounting to 947 MW with an effective generation capacity of approximately 710 MW. Uganda’s access to electricity is among the lowest in Africa with only 19% leaving 6.9 Millions of households without power. Uganda has launched the “Vision 2040” aiming to attain universal access to electricity by then.
Even though, hydro constitute a source of clean energy, the frequent drought in the region influence greatly the level of Nile water which causes unreliability of the hydropower supply. Thus, the government is looking for nuclear as a viable option. The government has been stressing its intention to engage in nuclear energy as nuclear could help the economic development of the country by providing a continuous source of energy to the industries and help connect the millions of households without electricity at the moment. Uganda plans to produce up to 30,000 megawatts of electricity from its uranium by 2026.
President Museveni indicated that the government has completed pre-feasibility studies for a 2000 MW nuclear power projects. He stated that “Uganda must think of nuclear power because all the hydropower plants being constructed or soon to be constructed along river Nile will not be enough”
According to the Swiss firm AF-consult, three scenarios are probable, first the high case scenario seeing a 2 units power plant with a capacity of 2,300MW commissioned by 2028. Second, the base case scenario involving 2 units power plant with a capacity of 2,000 MW where the first unit would be commissioned in 2031, this project would be estimated at around $9.8 Billion. The low case scenario suggests a 1,000MW reactor be commissioned in 2034 which would cost around $4.9 billion.
Uganda is already cooperating with countries like Russia and China to help them develop their nuclear energy program. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Rosatom (the Russian state company) in June 2017. The memorandum covered collaboration on human resource education and training, nuclear research centers, nuclear energy among others. While another MoU has been signed with Chinese state company CNNC on May 2018, this Mou will focus on supporting Uganda with financing, technical and engineering cooperation to develop nuclear reactors. Sarah Nafuna Mudoko, Head of Ugandan Nuclear Energy Unit which will be participating to Africa Nuclear Business Platform in Kenya next October with other African local heads of nuclear agencies has stated that ”This partnership with China in the area of nuclear energy development is for peaceful purposes and all plans have been made in Uganda to have clean and safe nuclear energy generation sources”
In the same rhetoric, the minister of energy Ms. Irene Muloni expressed that Uganda “welcomes partners to help construct, train and develop nuclear energy in line with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards.”
Uganda has proceeded to feasibility studies with planned investments spread over eight years, the initial electricity output from nuclear is expected to be in 2026. The government has narrow down the site selection to 4 locations Lamwo, Mubende, Kiruhura, and Nakasongola districts. Those sites have access to a large amount of water due to their proximity to lakes. Furthermore, Uganda started training local engineers to nuclear through their partnership with foreign countries such as China and Russia.
In conclusion, Uganda is on the right track to acquire nuclear energy in the next decade. They have shown commitment and willingness to embark and adhere to the international requirements and standards. They have been working with IAEA and starting implementing the steps mentioned earlier.
Uganda will be represented by Dr. Akisophel Kisolo, Chairperson, Atomic Energy Council and Sarah Nafuna at Africa Nuclear Business Platform which is aiming to bring together African leaders and international stakeholders to help in its modest way the development of peaceful nuclear energy in the African continent.
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Author: Ibrahim Ababou. Global Account Manager – Nuclear, Project Manager – Africa Nuclear Business Platform.