Nigeria currently has two nuclear establishments driving and regulating its nuclear programmes. The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission [NAEC] and the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority [NNRA].
Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, before 2011, was a sleepy agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
The mandate of the Commission is to put up a roadmap for the development of nuclear technology in Nigeria. The purpose of it will be civil applications – medical, agricultural research and generation of electricity.
On the other hand, the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority [NNRA], is under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of petroleum resources.The authority currently services the Ministry through the application of nuclear materials for oil exploration and refining. It equally regulates nuclear materials for medical and agricultural purposes.
Both establishments, NAEC and NNRA, are under the global auspices of United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in Vienna, Austria.
The Commission work closely with the following organisations: Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Mines and Steels and Science and Technology.Bilateral agreements
In furtherance to its national nuclear programme, Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian state-owned ROSATOM on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis.
Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom has boasted that it’s concluded nuclear power memoranda of understanding with Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and Zambia. Uganda is also on the list.
South Africa is the only country in Africa with a commercial nuclear power plant with two reactors. The nuclear power station accounts for around 5% of SA’s electricity production. That is nuclear power generates 2000 megawatts of electricity. Discontinued due to affordability.
Elsewhere in the world countries like Germany, Belgium and the US are downscaling their nuclear plans or exiting it altogether. The reasons include perceptions of increased risk following the Fukushima disaster in Japan as well as economic factors.
Nigeria’s terrible maintenance culture is often a point of reference whenever the debate or idea of nuclear programme comes up. Examples are made of how our electricity transformers and cables kill Nigerians unabated.
Regulatory frameworks and legal works needed to safeguard operations and quell public anxiety appear too weak or non-existent. Welfare packages for nuclear workers in the country are poor which often leads to brain drain. Nuclear talents are in high demands.
The current spate of insecurity portends one of the biggest threat to nuclear as a matter of national security. We need adequate security personnel to protect nuclear facilities.
Nuclear energy mix
Nigeria’s dominant energy source is gas, and here it would take a 4.8GW nuclear plant to double its capacity. NAEC has said it will develop capacity to generate 10000MW of electricity yearly for the next 4 years through it power plants when completed.