By Cheruto Valentine

An intergovernmental agreement was signed on May 24th between Russia and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy. This follows an official visit to Moscow by the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Jean-Claude Gakosso and Aleksey Likhachev after signing the inter governmental agreement in Moscow
Photos courtesy of Rosatom International

The document was signed for the Republic of Congo by Jean-Claude Gakosso, the minister of foreign affairs, cooperation and Congolese Nationals Abroad. Aleksey Likhachev, director general of Rosatom, signed the document on behalf of the Russian party.  Rosatom is a Russian state corporation founded by Vladimir Putin and headquartered in Moscow that specializes in nuclear energy.

Signing of the agreement is the starting point for an active nuclear dialogue between Moscow and Brazzaville. It will allow implementing specific cooperation projects over a wide range of directions.

These will include creation and improvement of nuclear infrastructure; production of radioisotopes to be used in various industries such as nuclear medicine and agriculture; educating, training and retraining of specialists for the nuclear industry.

It also outlines the development of programs to increase public awareness of nuclear technologies and their application.

The first document that laid the foundation for the bilateral dialogue between the two countries was the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in February 2018 in Moscow, Russia. The MoU included plans to construct a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST). This facility will house a Russian-designed research reactor and will be located within the Republic of Congo.

Brazzaville is not the only country to work with Russia on a nuclear program. On May 16th, Rwanda also signed an agreement with Russia on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

From Rosatom, the document was signed by its deputy director general, Nikolai Spasskiy. From Rwanda, the document was signed by Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Russian Federation.

Same as Brazzaville, the document outlines measures put in place regarding the project to build a CNST which will include a Russian-design research reactor. These measures will be in place until the end of this year.

Another key task stated in the document is the Rwanda staff training which will take place in Russia.

The Russian-Rwandan cooperation started a year ago, when an MoU was signed in June 2018 in Moscow. In February 2019, two other MoUs were signed in Kigali: one was on education and personnel training in the field of nuclear energy and the other was on the formation of positive public opinion on nuclear energy in the country.