Energy sector experts at the Africa Energy Conference (AEC) have maintained that decisions on the selection of energy mix for Africa’s industrialisation must be based on available power generation resources to ensure sustainability.
According to the experts drawn from different countries, Africa must first set its parameters which classify what sources of energy are safe or not safe for the continent, and provide African-tailored sustainability solutions influenced by generation capacity based on the continent’s needs and resources.
Speaking on the topic ‘Sustainability and the role of nuclear power in enabling Africa’s energy ambitions’ during the third plenary session of the AEC organised by the B&FT, Manager-Executive Director’s Office, Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), Daniel A. Wordson, indicated that a source of energy like nuclear is the cheapest, safest and greenest among the options available to Africa with all things being equal; therefore, it should hold a key position in the energy mix.
Using Ghana as an example, he emphasised that the current energy tariff situation or high cost of power is due to the sources of power (thermal), which are largely determined by generation inputs like oil and gas with unstable market prices.
“We have barely exhausted our hydropower potential, but one of the factors that has led to our current tariff situation is the fact that we have to get bulk oil to power our thermal plants and prices of oil and gas are unstable, but nuclear offers cheaper means of energy.
“Nuclear offers intense energy that’s very stable over a very long period, which offers stability for the industry to create jobs and get work done at a lower cost. Thus, nuclear is the most stable, affordable and long-term proposition,” he said.
Dr. Kelvin Kemm, Nuclear Power Expert-South Africa, on his part stated that energy sustainability must be considered from the African perspective and not dictated to by the west. Again, he adds, people lose their lives daily in health facilities because there is no power to perform a simple procedure; hence, defining safety and sustainability must take into consideration such factors.
He concurred with the concept that nuclear is the cheapest, safest and greenest as it does not generate carbon dioxide (Co2) into the environment. He maintained that African governments must be bold enough to adopt nuclear in their energy mix, and transition at their own pace with long-term investment funding.
Public Perception of Nuclear power
The consensus of the panel of experts including Sophia Abena Tijani, Director-VRA Training Academy; Franklin Nana Addai, Head-Legal & Board Secretariat; and Winnie Ndubai, Director-Nuclear Power & Energy Agency Kenya. Speaking to the issue, experts indicated that the fear of nuclear is an ‘uninformed public’ factor, hence understanding the building of a nuclear plant and its type of radiation would help palliate fears.
They established that Africa holds a lot of potential for industrial growth that must be well communicated and not allowed to be frustrated on the global stage by the big players – who pick and choose what is safe and which is not due to the present prevailing situation.
“We have to establish our relevance with these resources and leverage on them for sustenance. The transition to nuclear is a long-term investment and must be smooth, following our pathway and timelines cautiously,” Mr. Wordson iterated.