17 July 2014

Ghana's Energy Plans On Course

Ghana's plans to embark upon a nuclear power project are progressing gradually, Professor Benjamin Jabez B. Nyarko, Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has stated in Accra.

He said the country had advanced in efforts to satisfy international requirements in the development of the infrastructure, operating and maintaining a nuclear power plant. He said GAEC had submitted a National Nuclear Power Policy Bill to Parliament, while the establishment of the Graduate School of Nuclear and Sciences under the University of Ghana is a clear headway in preparing the human resource requisite for operating such an important project in the country.

The country would also follow laid down regulations by putting in place an independent regulatory body to prevent external interferences, he said. Prof Nyarko said the size of the plant would, however, depend upon the national grid, but it would certainly be a bigger plant as the country is also looking at the West African idea of sharing the benefits of nuclear powered electricity with its neighbours.

The GAEC Director General said in spite of all the efforts being made to lay a good foundation for the smooth take-off of the Nuclear Power project, strong stakeholder involvement, government commitment and intensive public education would also be critical bedrock for its success. He explained that to succeed in its public education and sensitization programmes, GAEC saw the media as critical partners and therefore must be enlightened on the key issues surrounding nuclear power generation.

In view of this, the Commission engaged Editors at a maiden forum at Peduase on the Aburi road, to dialogue and clear all doubts on the introduction of nuclear energy as a viable option into Ghana's energy mix. Prof. Nyarko said the media were a key stakeholder in the nuclear industry and, therefore, considers their involvement in public education as key to the success of the Nuclear Programme in Ghana.

It is hoped that at the end of the seminar the media will play a critical role in the Commission's quest to use nuclear energy for electricity generation in Ghana to solve the energy crisis. He said the Commission appreciated the support and the role played by the media in Atomic Energy matters in Ghana and, therefore, there was the need for open and timely interaction and communication regarding the nuclear power programme.

Prof. Nyarko said nuclear energy was the most cost effective option for electricity generation, except for the huge set up cost. He said with the abundance of uranium, which is the fuelneeded for powering nuclear power plants, Ghana is assured of sustainable electricity supply over a long period and this would help in boosting its economy.

He urged the media to intensify education on the nuclear power programme with assurances of strong safety measures to be maintained by GAEC under the watch of international partners including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to observe laid down standards and regulations in operating a Nuclear Power Plant. Prof I.J.K Aboh, GAEC Deputy Director-General, added his call for intensified public education to alleviate all the misinformation about management of nuclear waste, security issues and other fears due to the Fukushima accident.

He said such unfortunate incidents do happen in every field, but in the case of nuclear power programmes such accidents are few, the third in the world, but international safety measures have been tightened to prevent future occurrence. Prof Aboh said GAEC had successfully operated a nuclear reactor for many years now and had used it to enhance the health of Ghanaians through sterilization of medical equipment and consumables as well as X-rays machines, enhancing agricultural produce by preserving them for future and calibration for industries.

He said the Commission was also putting in place many other measures and had signed agreements with international partners on nuclear safety so that in the case of any accident they would rapidly assist. Prof. Aboh said the Commission would remain committed in partnering with all stakeholders to ensure that Ghanaians are well informed about the Nuclear Power Programme.

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