Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Nigeria the go ahead to embark on five critical projects in nuclear power energy, cancer management, livestock production, governmental and regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety and radiation oncology.
The projects due to commence in 2020, were approved under the Country Programme Framework document.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, made the announcement yesterday at the ministerial conference on nuclear science and technology in Vienna, Austria.
Onu, who led the Nigeria delegation, said the designs of these projects had been completed and submitted to the IAEA for review. Those on the delegation included, Permanent Secretary Political & Economic Affairs Office. OSGF ,Gabriel Aduda, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Austria and Slovakia, Vivian Okeke, Chairman Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Professor S.P Mallam and Director Renewable Energy, Ministry of Science and Technology, Abbas Gunmi.
Last month, both Nigeria and IAEA signed the Country Programme Framework document for 2018-2023 cycle at the 62nd Session of the IAEA General Conference also in Vienna.
Onu said the document identified the priority areas of Nigeria’s partnership with the agency in a clear and practical fashion. The signing of the document is a precursor to the commencement of additional national projects under the 2020-2021 Technical Cooperation Cycle and beyond.
The minister disclosed that Nigeria’s arrangements towards the acquisition of a multi-purpose research reactor had reached an advanced stage, expressing hope that the acquisition will contribute to several developmental activities in the country in the provision of radiopharmaceuticals to support cancer diagnosis and treatment and research and training.
“Nigeria believes that steady electricity is a key element in the development of any nation. On this premise, Nigeria’s quest for the generation of electricity from nuclear resources cannot come at a better time especially with the dwindling of other energy resources and global efforts at mitigating climate change through the use of environmentally friendly technologies including nuclear. Meticulous planning and discussions are already ongoing towards Nigeria’s acquisition of her first nuclear power plant,” Onu said.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria’s Research Reactor, which was commissioned in 2004 with enriched uranium, will reach full power this week.
He said the reactor had proved very useful in mineral exploration and processing and the agricultural sector in soil fertility analysis, was recently successfully converted from the use of HEU to LEU attaining criticality early this month.
He also expressed Nigeria appreciation to IAEA in the provision of facilities and training of the needed manpower for the diagnosis and management of cancer in country.
He said the IAEA led training programmes had produced many qualified Nuclear Medicine Physicians, Radiation Oncologists, Radiographers, Medical Physicists and numerous other relevant professionals that are spread across the tertiary health institutions in the country.