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Nigeria ‘needs nuclear for economic growth’, Jonathan tells world leaders

Out-Law News | 28 Mar 2014 | 2:01 pm | 2 min. read

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated plans to introduce a civil nuclear energy programme in the country, to attract investment that will boost economic growth and develop a modern science and technology sector.

Jonathan told this week’s international Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands: "As a developing country, Nigeria needs to harness nuclear technology for socio-economic development.”

The president said a bill was now being considered by the National Assembly that would pave the way for nuclear, by ratifying international treaties and conventions relating to nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

Nigeria’s government approved a national nuclear power ‘roadmap and strategy’ in 2007. Original government proposals called for the first nuclear power plant to start delivering electricity to the national grid by 2020 – ramping up to around 4,000 megawatts of nuclear generating capacity by 2030.

Based on the results of preliminary siting activities, Nigeria has identified two “preferred sites” – at Geregu in the central region and Itu in the south east – which have been recommended for detailed evaluation.

Russia is already lined up as a potential partner to build and help finance Nigeria’s nuclear infrastructure. A cooperation agreement was signed in June 2012 with Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom.

Nigeria said other agreements are also under consideration. In addition, related infrastructure investment opportunities will include further developing the transmission network and preparing the nuclear plant sites.  

Rosatom’s deputy director general for development and international business, Kirill Komarov, has confirmed that Russian-backed “financing options” would be on offer to Nigeria.

Komarov told a business forum for the five BRICS major emerging national economies [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] last year, that nuclear power projects “must not only be mutually beneficial for both sides, but also shall contribute to the development of local socio-economic sectors, ensuring creation of jobs, infrastructure development, and attraction of investments”.

Komarov added: “It is vital for African countries to create a viable energy mix, which will guarantee their own energy security and drive industrial development. That is the reason why more and more African countries are currently studying the opportunities for nuclear power development, and their intentions must be supported by the global community.”

Russia has also proposed to build and help finance the planned expansion of nuclear in South Africa – currently the only African nation with a commercial nuclear power programme.

Financial support from international nuclear vendors will be a necessary development component for both African nations.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim has ruled out support for nuclear. Kim said last November: “The World Bank does not engage in providing support for nuclear power. We think that this is an extremely difficult conversation that every country is continuing to have… and because we are really not in that business, our focus is on finding ways of working in hydroelectric power in geothermal, in solar, in wind.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], has acknowledged that the “main obstacle to building new reactors is financial”.

IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said the benefits of nuclear power include reducing the "impact of volatile fossil fuel prices" and mitigate the effects of climate change. Amano added: “The costs of construction can be considerable, although these may be offset by lower and more stable fuel costs during operation."

Nigeria told a conference in Vienna last month that it expects an IAEA team to conduct a further assessment of the country’s preparations to launch a civil nuclear programme in the first half of this year. The IAEA’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission, conducted by international experts, is designed to help assess the status of their national infrastructure for the introduction or expansion of nuclear power.

e:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA'>83%] covering the transport, energy, water, urban development and agriculture sectors. The bank has invested an additional $316 million through the International Finance Corporation and $149m in insurance cover by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency to five private investment projects.