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Nuclear power as an enabler of innovative development in Africa

By Thuo Njoroge | Published Wed, July 5th 2017 at 07:31, Updated July 5th 2017 at 07:46 GMT +3
(Photo: Courtesy)

Governments across Africa are seeking ways to enhance their existing energy infrastructure and develop new or diverse energy sources that are reliable, affordable and sustainable. Development of a sustainable mix of different energy sources will allow the continent in general to unleash its huge potential for economic growth. Nuclear energy combined with other clean sources can become a major driver for many economic sectors as it is a driver of scientific and technological progress.

It is not only about hi-tech nuclear power plants and about innovative reactors to produce clear and cheap energy, but also about research reactors and scientific centres, nuclear medicine and prerequisite of future innovation development. Nuclear technologies are widely used both in the energy sector and in many non-energy spheres.

For instance, in health sector its technology is used in radiology department for scanning and radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients, in security sector nuclear technology is used to enhance security of premises by detecting explosive devices. Its application in production processes helps dealing with various challenges of global development, such as ensuring environmental, energy and food safety and facilitating the advancement of science and thus economic growth.

Social development

Besides being a source of clean energy, the atom is also instrumental in solving a number of crucial issues in guaranteeing social and economic development. Experience has shown that the development of nuclear power and related infrastructure has a positive impact on the social and economic conditions in adjacent regions. According to Vladimir Leshchenko, Deputy Head of the Novovoronezh city administration (Novovoronezh is situated in Russia and is home to one of the most advanced nuclear power plants (NPP) in the world and the first Generation III+ nuclear reactor), prior to the construction of its first NPP in the 1960s, the town was a very small and poor village. However, the development of nuclear power stimulated the rapid development of the town and the nuclear power plant became a town-forming enterprise.

In 2015, tax proceeds from the NPP accounted for almost 25 per cent of the town’s budget, which made it possible to implement projects on the construction of schools and sports facilities. Currently, new housing is being built and new jobs are being created, which promotes the welfare of local residents. 

Nuclear medicine

Due to the active development of nuclear power, high-tech clusters can emerge in the future; these clusters would integrate a number of industries, medicine, science and technology. In developing countries like Kenya, in addition to building up a country’s reputation as a nation with sophisticated and advanced technologies, the development of nuclear also encourages the creation of high-tech sectors in the economy. 

Nuclear technologies make it possible to use nuclear medicine for treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Radiation technologies make it possible to grow more crops and safely export more domestic products. The science and technology cluster may include the manufacture of special-purpose and civil products, such as equipment for the transport industry and the fuel and energy industry, systems for monitoring, diagnostics and control, metallurgy products, control and measuring devices and medical equipment. Moreover, the cluster ensures the growth of the added value by increasing the competitiveness of the manufactured products on the domestic and foreign markets.

Besides, experience has shown that marketing and engineering infrastructure facilities and small enterprises operating in related fields begin to emerge near the “core” of the cluster after its creation. In symbiosis with the “core”, they increase the investment attractiveness of the region and of the entire country.The integration of new enterprises into a single complex will enable national players to strengthen their positions in the domestic market and to increase their competitiveness on a global level.

Mr Njoroge is an Economics and Policy Analysis lecturer at Karatina [email protected]


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