Burundi and Russia agreement on nuclear cooperation

27 July 2023

The Republic of Burundi and Russia have signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on peaceful uses of nuclear technology. It was signed as the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum takes place in St Petersburg.

Likhachev, second left, and Uwizeye, centre, took part in a panel session on nuclear at the forum (Image: Roscongress)

Russia is currently hosting the forum and the MoC was signed on its sidelines by Burundi's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Albert Shingiro and Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev.

Rosatom said the agreement allows projects including "assisting in the establishment and improvement of Burundi's nuclear infrastructure; legal regulation in nuclear and radiation safety; conducting fundamental and applied research in the area of peaceful atomic energy; radioisotopes production and its application in the industry, medicine, and agriculture; cooperation on radiation technologies and nuclear medicine; personnel training and specialists education for the nuclear industry".

There will also be the creation of a joint coordination committee with exchanges of experts and of "scientific and technical information and supply of equipment, materials and components".

Earlier, a delegation from Burundi, headed by President Evariste Ndayishimiye, visited the Leningrad nuclear power plant, with its VVER-1200 reactors. Burundi's Minister of Water Resources, Energy and Mining, Ibrahim Uwizeye, said the visit had been very useful in the context of the Burundi-2040 project which has among its aims to "lead our country to energy security and independence with the consumption of different types of energy within the country".

Burundi signed its first Country Programme Framework with the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2016 and in 2019 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a bill in parliament for the peaceful use and the safety and security of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation.

There are other African countries discussing nuclear energy - and other peaceful uses of nuclear technology - with Russia at the forum. President Vladimir Putin was reported by Tass to have said during talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that "we have prepared a whole package of documents for your visit ... among them ... a roadmap on cooperation in the area of nuclear energy use". This would follow the two countries signing an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy at a previous Russia-Africa Forum in 2019.

Tass also reported that Russia and Zimbabwe "may sign an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy" and earlier this week Russia's ambassador in Tanzania was reported to have said a pilot project to extract uranium in the country could be launched "in the coming months" which "may eventually evolve into a full-scale uranium mining and production facility".

Apart from South Africa, which has had an operating nuclear energy plant for nearly four decades, the next country in Africa set to get a nuclear power plant is Egypt, where Russia's Rosatom is currently building the four VVER-1200 unit El Dabaa plant. President Putin, speaking at a meeting with Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ahead of the forum in St Petersburg, said that the giant energy project was going according to plan.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News