DORIS KASOTE, Sochi, Russia
THE deal has been sealed. Zambia and Russia signed the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contract. The signing of the contract will see the establishment of the Centre for Nuclear Sciences and Technology (CNST) that will see Zambia’s economy improve because of the benefits that will come with the establishment of the centre.
The agreement that was signed will turn Zambia into a hub of nuclear sciences. The centre is to be used for peaceful purposes such has boosting the energy, health and agriculture sectors.
Nuclear is important for meeting the world’s growing need for reliable, affordable and clean energy.
Global electricity demand is expected to double by 2050 as people everywhere demand a better quality of life. All low-carbon sources, including nuclear energy, are important for meeting this demand.
Nuclear energy is expected to provide at least 25 percent of global electricity by 2050 to successfully meet the needs of human development and protecting the environment.
Zambia has seen the need to embrace nuclear energy by ensuring the country does not lag behind in being a highly industrialised nation.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services acting Permanent Secretary Isaac Chipampe said besides the hydro power and other sources of energy, Zambia needs to go for nuclear energy as well because industrialisation requires a reliable source of energy.
Mr Chipampe, who was speaking at the 2018 ATOMEXPO International Forum, said with the advancement of technology, nuclear energy is safe.
And Radiation Protection Authority (RPA) executive director Boston Siwila said the authority has already drafted a bill on nuclear energy which is currently with the Ministry of Justice.
Mr Siwila said RPA is also going to expand its staffing levels by recruiting more scientists and engineers in radiation and nuclear safety.
He said Zambia is looking for more partners to strengthen the authority in regulating nuclear energy activities in the country.
The forum was held under the theme, ‘Global Partnership-Joint Success’.
“The ministry has put in place awareness programmes to educate the nation on the safety of nuclear energy and why it is important for Zambia to go nuclear,” Mr Chipampe said.
He said nuclear energy has many benefits including in the health and agriculture sectors.
Energy security is strengthened when a nation uses nuclear energy. Energy being the driver of any economy, reliable energy reduces the cost of production resulting in improved standards of living.
Minister of Energy Mathew Nkhuwa said the agreement signed by the two countries will translate into Zambia having cheaper energy, especially that the commodity is the backbone of every economy.
The agreement was signed by Ministry of Higher Education Permanent Secretary Mabvuto Sakala and Joint Stock Company State Specialised Design Institute Director General Vyacheslav Galushkov.
And Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) Director General Alexey Likhachev said the signing of the contract opens a new chapter in the partnership between Zambia and Russia.
Meanwhile, Rosatom regional vice-president (sub-Saharan Africa) Viktor Polikarpov said Zambia has the potential to grow its gross domestic product through industrialisation.
“For any nation to develop fully, it requires to be industrialised and industrialisation requires reliable energy,” he said.
The CNST will include a multifunctional 10MW water moderated cooled research reactor with supporting laboratories and functional facilities providing for a wide range of scientific research, including radiobiology. It will also enable the production of isotopes in Zambia for use in medicine, pest control and food and agriculture. The centre will serve as a training base for skilled nuclear personnel to support Zambia’s nuclear and research programme.
Mr Polikarpov said Zambia’s geographical centrality and political stability and commitment to economic growth are some of the reasons the country is ideal for the centre to be established.
He said the setting up of the centre will make nuclear medicine become affordable for Zambia, as well as attract patients from neighbouring countries.
“Zambia has an opportunity of becoming a regional hub for nuclear technology. The centre will handle 8,000 diagnostic and 3,000 therapeutic procedures,” he said.
And Argentine Nuclear Association president Christa Vega said the nuclear energy industry can play an important role in job creation and economic growth, providing both immediate and lasting employment and economic benefits.
To ensure that experts will be available to work at the centre, some Zambians studying nuclear power engineering and thermal physics are expected to be part of the team that will be co-opted.
Morris Mungwalubilo who is studying at the Institute for Nuclear Power Engineering National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI), urged Zambians to read about the benefits of nuclear energy and the positive impact it has on an economy.
“The younger generation should also be educated on the importance of nuclear energy,” he said.
There have been so many myths about nuclear energy, which is why public awareness is critical in dispelling myths about nuclear energy. Lack of effective communication may led to the creation of many myths surrounding nuclear energy, yet the industry is the answer to the many challenges faced globally.
With Zambia’s growing economy, the decision to go nuclear should be welcomed. The public needs to take time to read about the benefits of nuclear energy if the nation has to improve its economy.
DORIS KASOTE, Sochi, Russia