IAEA assesses Niger's progress on nuclear programme

18 July 2018

Niger has a strong commitment to developing the infrastructure for a nuclear power programme, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission team has concluded in its final report. The report from the mission - conducted in April - was submitted to the Nigerien government on 16 July.

IAEA Deputy Director General Chudakov (left) presented the final INIR mission report to Nigerien Energy Minister Moumouni (second right) (Image: M Kovachev/IAEA

Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions are designed to assist IAEA member states in assessing the status of national infrastructure needed for the introduction of nuclear power. They are based on the IAEA Milestones Approach, with its 19 Infrastructure Issues, three Phases and three Milestones.

A mission team, comprising international experts from France, Morocco, Spain and the UK, as well as IAEA staff, conducted an INIR mission to Niger in April this year. Prior to the mission, which was supported by the Division for Africa in the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Department, Niger prepared a self-evaluation report covering all infrastructure issues and submitted this and supporting documents to the IAEA. The team presented a preliminary report on the conclusion of the eight-day mission.

The team's final report was handed to Nigerien Energy Minister Amina Moumouni by IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy Mikhail Chudakov in Niamey on 16 July.

The INIR mission team made seven recommendations and 17 suggestions to help Niger make further progress in its infrastructure development. These include developing an integrated view of overall nuclear power plant project costs, a legal and regulatory framework for safety, alongside strengthening the management of activities for its prospective nuclear power programme. The team also identified three good practices that may benefit other countries considering the introduction of nuclear power.

Niger, whose economic development is hampered by a lack of consistent electricity supply, is considering a potential role for nuclear power in its energy mix, the IAEA said. A country of about 21 million people in Western Africa, Niger is currently ranked as the world's fourth largest producer of uranium ore.

"As is recognised in the INIR Mission report, there is a strong commitment from the government to the work of developing the infrastructure for a nuclear power programme," Chudakov said. "I am encouraged that even though Niger is still in an early phase, it has already enacted a comprehensive nuclear law, established an independent nuclear regulatory authority, and is currently reviewing existing regulations and developing appropriate new ones."

The IAEA publishes each INIR mission report on its website 90 days after its delivery to the member state, unless the state requests that the IAEA not do so.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News