Kenya draws closer to nuclear energy

A team of nuclear power experts is set to visit Kenya in March to assess the progress that the country has made towards producing electricity using the energy source.

The experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will look into the efforts that the country has made in formulating policies that can guarantee safe operation of nuclear reactors.

Kenya plans to build nuclear power plants as it seeks to diversify its electricity generation mix, with the first reactor slated for completion in 2027.

IAEA in a recent report said it would undertake a review that will inform the next steps that the country will take.

“The IAEA will conduct a follow-up INIR (Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review) in Kenya and a mission to Uganda, both phase one,” it said.

The Vienna-based agency is a United Nations affiliate mandated to ensure secure use of atomic energy.

Besides Kenya and Uganda, other countries that will be reviewed are Uzbekistan and Belarus.

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (Nupea), the state body charged with development of Kenya’s nuclear power programme, is currently conducting studies on the identified potential sites for the power plants.

These include locations along Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and the Indian Ocean. The large water bodies are selected due to the huge amounts of water required for cooling reactors.

IAEA estimates that one nuclear power plant with a capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts, which is what Nupea is eyeing, could cost between Sh500 billion and Sh600 billion.

Nupea has in the past said it has been working to bridge the local nuclear skills gaps and has forwarded some of its personnel for training in countries such as South Korea, China and Russia.

It plans to partner with local institutions of higher learning and develop curricula for training locally.

IAEA undertakes the INIR review on invitation by member states.