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Kenya adopts nuclear energy to fight climate tragedy

Kenya intends to scale up the adoption of nuclear energy amid intensifying efforts to tame the unfolding climate emergencies, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Soipan Tuya, cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, said nuclear energy, if harnessed in a sustainable manner, could boost climate resilience in the country.

Speaking on the sidelines of the African Youth Generation in Nuclear summit underway in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, Tuya said Kenya and its African partners should promote nuclear power in their quest to attain the target of net-zero emissions.

The three-day conference brought together nuclear regulators, scholars and students from more than 20 African countries to develop strategies for cooperation on the use of nuclear technology.

Tuya said nuclear energy is perhaps Africa’s last best hope for addressing climate change and empowering sustainable economic development.

“In the current circumstances, nuclear energy is emerging as a compelling solution to power needs as it offers a clean, reliable and low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels,” she added.

Tuya noted that nuclear power plants produce negligible greenhouse gases during their operation and their ability to generate large amounts of electricity consistently can help reduce Africa’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The Kenyan official noted that nuclear energy has the potential to address the pressing issue of energy poverty in Africa where up to 600 million people have no access to reliable electricity.

“In Kenya, by 2040, the demand for electricity will exhaust the current generation capacity, making a powerful case for urgent adoption of nuclear power,” Tuya said.

She said several African countries, including Kenya, have already presented their nuclear ambitions and are currently at different stages of nuclear adoption.

They are aiming to commission their nuclear reactors within the next 10 to 15 years.

Amanda Mbhele, a scientist at the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation, said his country has decades of cumulative experience in running nuclear facilities, and this form of energy is safe, feasible and ideal for African nations grappling with climatic shocks.

David Otwoma, the founder and former chairperson of the Eastern Africa Association for Radiation Protection, urged African countries to adopt nuclear energy since it can be affordable to households and can power industrial growth.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a third of the almost 30 countries currently considering nuclear power are in Africa. Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan have already engaged with the agency to assess their readiness to embark on a nuclear program.

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