By Precious John, Special Correspondent
Kenya has made progress in implementing the recommendations of an earlier International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear infrastructure review mission, a team of IAEA and international experts has said.
Kenya, which has Africa’s seventh-largest economy and a population of 52 million people, is considering the introduction of nuclear power to help meet its growing energy demand. The Kenyan Ministry of Energy has proposed the potential use of nuclear energy for power generation. In 2019, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) transitioned to the Kenya Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) to undertake preparations for the development of a nuclear power programme.
The follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission took place from 8 to 11 June 2021. It assessed the country’s progress on recommendations from an INIR mission conducted in 2015. It also provided an opportunity to exchange information on the way ahead and clarify outstanding issues.
The 2015 review had made 15 recommendations and 8 suggestions to assist Kenya in making further progress in its infrastructure development. It reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 1 criteria from of the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, which provides detailed guidance across three phases of development (consider, prepare, construct). Phase 1 evaluates the readiness of a country to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme.
The 2021 follow-up mission was organized in a hybrid format with two IAEA experts travelling to Kenya and two international experts from Ireland and Spain participating virtually.
The follow-up INIR team said that Kenya had made progress in the implementation of most recommendations and suggestions from the 2015 review, completing ten and four, respectively.
The follow-up INIR team noted progress in areas including:
- Kenya developed the National Nuclear Policy and the National Policy and Strategy for Safety to enable the Government to make an informed decision on whether to introduce nuclear power.
- The country enacted a national nuclear law and established a regulatory body with clear responsibilities for safety, security and safeguards.
- The Government completed an assessment of the national legal framework and identified other laws needing review.
- The Government enhanced the coordination among its key stakeholders in the development of its nuclear power programme.
The team said that further work is needed in areas such as the development of a nuclear leadership programme and the ratification of international conventions in the area of nuclear safety.
“Kenya made considerable efforts to address all the recommendations and suggestions made by the INIR team in 2015. The preparatory work needed to inform the Government’s decision has progressed,” said team leader Eric Mathet, Operational Lead of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.
‘‘The follow-up INIR Mission has given a big impetus to the Nuclear Power Programme for the country and therefore sets in place a new phase in the Milestone Approach,” said Chief Executive Officer and National Liaison Officer of NuPEA, Eng. Collins G. Juma. ”The next steps call for greater efforts by all stakeholders in ensuring that Kenya becomes a knowledgeable customer and is ready to invite bids for the first nuclear power plant.’’