By Mary Hearty
Kenya is committed to introducing nuclear power to help meet its growing energy demand. This comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reviewed the country’s status and concluded that it has made a good progress in nuclear infrastructure development.
“Kenya has made progress in implementing the recommendation of an earlier IAEA nuclear infrastructure review mission,” a team of IAEA and international experts said during the follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission.
The follow-up INIR mission took place from 8 to 11 June 2021. It was organized in a hybrid format with two IAEA experts travelling to Kenya and two international experts from Ireland and Spain participating virtually.
The follow-up INIR team assessed the country’s progress on recommendations from an INIR mission conducted in 2015. It also provided an opportunity to exchange information on the way ahead and clarify outstanding issues.
“Kenya made considerable efforts to address all the recommendations and suggestions made by the INIR team in 2015. The preparatory work needed to inform the Government’s decision has progressed,” said team leader Eric Mathet, Operational Lead of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.
The 2015 review mission which comprised of 10 INIR members including experts from South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom and IAEA staff, identified progress in capacity building and stakeholder involvement; and reviewing infrastructure requirements in a comprehensive manner.
The INIR team, in its final meeting with the Kenyan Government , said the country had made significant progress in preparing to make decisions related to the introduction of nuclear power. The INIR team made 15 recommendations and 8 suggestions aimed at assisting Kenya in further development of its nuclear infrastructure.
It reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 1 criteria from the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, which provides detailed guidance across three phases of development (consider, prepare, construct).
The IAEA Milestones Approach enables a sound development process for a nuclear power programme. It is a phased comprehensive method to assist countries that are considering or planning their first nuclear power plant. Experience suggests that the time from the initial consideration of the nuclear power option by a country to the operation of its first nuclear power plant is about 10–15 years.
The aim is to help Member States understand the commitments and obligations associated with developing a nuclear power programme. Countries that already have nuclear power can assess their preparedness for expansion.
Phase 1 evaluates the readiness of a country to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme. Considerations before a decision to launch a nuclear power programme is taken; a Pre-Feasibility Study will help a country establish a strong national position and answer the key question: why nuclear? This process begins early in Phase 1 after nuclear power is included as an option in the energy strategy.
Phase 2 assesses the readiness of a country to invite bids for the construction of the first nuclear power plant. Preparatory work for the contracting and construction of a nuclear power plant after a policy decision has been taken; in this phase, key organizations as well as the legal and regulatory frameworks are established.
Phase 3 considers the preparedness of a country to commission and operate the first nuclear power plant. Activities to contract, licence and construct the first nuclear power plant are undertaken.
The follow-up INIR team said that Kenya had made progress in the implementation of most recommendations and suggestions from the 2015 review, completing ten and four, respectively.
The follow-up INIR team noted progress in areas including:
- Kenya developed the National Nuclear Policy and the National Policy and Strategy for Safety to enable the Government to make an informed decision on whether to introduce nuclear power.
- The country enacted a national nuclear law and established a regulatory body with clear responsibilities for safety, security and safeguards.
- The Government completed an assessment of the national legal framework and identified other laws needing review.
- The Government enhanced the coordination among its key stakeholders in the development of its nuclear power program.
The team said that further work is needed in areas such as the development of a nuclear leadership programme and the ratification of international conventions in the area of nuclear safety.
‘‘The follow-up INIR Mission has given a big impetus to the Nuclear Power Programme for the country and therefore sets in place a new phase in the Milestone Approach,” said Eng. Collins G. Juma, Chief Executive Officer and National Liaison Officer of Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA). ”The next steps call for greater efforts by all stakeholders in ensuring that Kenya becomes a knowledgeable customer and is ready to invite bids for the first nuclear power plant.’’
The story was derived from a newsletter by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)