Kenya aims to have a fully operational nuclear power plant by 2034, in its bid to increase energy security and industrial growth.
Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) acting Chief Executive Officer Justus Wabuyabo yesterday said this is part of the plan to incorporate nuclear as one of its sources of energy.
Wabuyabo outlined the substantial progress made toward this ambitious goal, including feasibility tests, workforce training in the energy sector, and rigorous environmental and social assessments for the nuclear power programme. Additionally, a suitable location for the nuclear power plant has been identified. Notably, the preparation process for the nuclear plant encompasses the establishment of a research reactor at Konza Technopolis.
This research reactor will serve as a mock-up to assess the obligations and commitments essential for the safe and sustainable implementation of the project. “The country will undertake phase one integrated nuclear infrastructure review mission for the research reactor later this year,” Wabuyabo said.
He also highlighted that the government has taken critical steps, including the enactment of the Nuclear Regulatory Act and the creation of the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority, to ensure the safe development of nuclear energy.
This announcement came during the launch of a postgraduate course in radiation, protection, and safety of radiation resources at Kenyatta University.
The five-month course aims to equip graduates in various fields, including food and agriculture, medical, industrial, research, and training, with the necessary knowledge to handle radio-emitting equipment safely.
James Chumba, the Director General of the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority, praised the programme as “a unique initiative that will establish a strong foundation in radiation protection and the safety of radiation sources.”
Principal Secretary of Public Health and Professional Standards Mary Muthoni, emphasized the importance of training radiation professionals due to the presence of over 1,590 facilities, including hospitals providing X-ray services, with more than 2,700 radiation sources.
This workforce, consisting of 3,400 personnel, including doctors, radiographers, and biomedical engineers, faces exposure to radiation.
Muthoni proposed that Kenyatta University introduce a diploma course as a standard requirement for professions in this field. She also encouraged more women to pursue careers in this traditionally male-dominated sector.
In a related development, Muthoni indicated that the ongoing rollout of Universal Health Care coverage in Kenya is expected to reduce hospital visits through early disease diagnosis.
This, coupled with the establishment of 315 primary care networks, will increase the demand for healthcare services, including medical machines like radio-emitting equipment.