The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy has concluded the first-ever US Africa Nuclear Energy Summit (USANES) in Accra, Ghana. The summit was organised in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Energy and the Nuclear Power Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. DOE said it “provided a platform for crucial dialogues and international cooperation on nuclear energy” where “participants from across the continent discussed the future of nuclear power and laid a foundation for sustainable nuclear energy growth in the region”.
The Summit brought together participants from across Africa, various international institutions, the US, the UK, South Korea and Japan, industry, academia, and civil society organisations. DOE said attendees included senior-level officials from “national laboratories in the United States and across Africa”.
The summit was part of a week-long series of events hosted in Ghana, which also included a meeting of the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and a day dedicated to engaging young people. “The outcome of this summit must propel the deployment of nuclear technology for power production in Africa, as the application of this technology holds the potential to expand our economies and improve the lives of our people,” said Ghana President Nana Addo, Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Addressing a IFNEC gala dinner. “As African countries strive to meet their commitments, under the Paris Agreement, nuclear power offers a viable solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, whilst meeting the growing energy demands of our populations.”
US Ambassador to Ghana Virginia E. Palmer said nuclear power can drive the clean energy revolution, strengthen energy access and diversity of supply, and fuel industrial development in energy intensive sectors. “Nuclear energy development demands committed partners. The United States is your 100-year nuclear energy partner,” she added. DOE plans to host biennial summits on the continent “to continue the momentum and deliver on the promise of nuclear energy technology for nations and communities in Africa”.
Ghana Senior Presidential Advisor Yaw Osafo-Maafo, speaking at the summit opening, said research and practice had proven beyond doubt that nuclear technology could provide the needed 'green' energy for accelerated economic development. "It is necessary to underscore the importance of the adoption of a Least Cost Alternative Technology with the features of Shorter Construction Time and also lends itself to Easy Grid Integration. This will maximise the benefits of the adoption of nuclear technology by African countries," he said.
He urged the regulators of the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNBRA) to quickly ramp up their competencies to support the development of nuclear programmes. He said the FNBRA must also consider the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) initiative on Nuclear Harmonisation and Standardisation in bridging the competency gap and accelerating the nuclear power plant licensing in a safe, secured and safeguarded manner.
Dr K Michael Goff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Nuclear at the US Department of State, said nuclear technology was the largest source of electricity in the US, which was preparing to triple it by 2050. He said nuclear power created high quality jobs, provided stable, clean energy for communities and industries and enhanced energy security. "These tasks are performed effortlessly by big reactors with low or no negative impact on the environment," he added. He noted that the US was developing and deploying a variety of technologies, including Generation 4 reactors and small modular reactors.
The US summit came after the Second Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg in July in which nuclear technologies took centre stage. The business programme, “Cooperation in Science & Technology” began with a panel discussion on “Nuclear Technologies for the Development of the African Region”. The summit attracted delegations from 49 African countries, 17 of which were led by their heads of state. Rosatom has nuclear cooperation agreements with many African countries, including Burkino Faso, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa Sudan, Tanzania. Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is building a four-unit NPP in Egypt and a science and technology centre in Rwanda.
Image: Representatives from the US and Ghana at the recent US Africa Nuclear Energy Summit