West African states prepare MOU on nuclear cooperation

29 July 2015

The newly created West African Integrated Nuclear Power Group (WAINPG) prepared a draft memorandum of understanding and three-year action plan at its first meeting, held last week in Niamey, Niger. The heads of delegations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal will take the MOU document to their respective governments for signature, which will commit them to proceeding with the initial planning for a regional nuclear power program.

The meeting, which was convened at the invitation of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and the Nigerien Atomic Energy High Authority (NAEHA), also included representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss the possibility of developing a regional nuclear power program in West Africa.

Djibo Takoubakoye Daouda, director of nuclear power at NAEHA, told World Nuclear News yesterday that the MOU will take effect upon the signature of four of the parties.

The Third African Conference on Energy and Nuclear Power, held in April in Mombasa, Kenya, recommended that the West African states create a sub-regional group for the development and implementation of a nuclear power program. The Niger meeting is also related to plans by ECOWAS to implement a West Africa Power Pool. This is stimulated by World Bank funding for the first phase of the $1.3 billion Eastern Africa power integration program, with intent to form an Eastern African Power Pool.

The draft memorandum states that the parties recognize the potential role that nuclear energy can achieve in meeting the following needs of the West African region: economic development and improvement in the quality of life of their populations; continued growth in the energy sector; development of the countries in a sustainable manner; clean, baseload electricity generation in response to the impact of climate change.

The document acknowledges there will be differences between the states in their approach to and thus their ultimate participation in the nuclear program that can be addressed in the process.

In their "unwavering commitment" to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the parties shall endeavour to approve the plan no later than 15 February 2016. The group also outlined a two-phase roadmap, with the first starting no later than 1 November. The second phase is to last two to three years.

Among its recommendations, WAINPG would like as many ECOWAS Member States as possible to join it for the development of an integrated regional nuclear power program.

In May 2012 Ghana hosted a regional meeting on "Co-operation and Networking for Nuclear Power Programme in Africa", organized by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) under the auspices of the IAEA. The GAEC said that the increasing energy requirements for the socio-economic development of Africa, coupled with the ever volatile prices of fossil fuels, continue to be a major challenge for a lot of African countries.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News