FOLLOWING a directive by President Edgar Lungu for the country to develop nuclear energy, Zambia and Russia have signed four Memoranda of understanding (MoU) to turn Zambia into a hub of nuclear science for peaceful purposes.
The four MoU signed will be implemented over a period of 15 years.
ROSATOM deputy director-general Nickolay Spassky signed the MoU on behalf of Russia, while the Zambian delegation was led by Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska, who oversaw the signing process done by relevant permanent secretaries.
The event took place in Lusaka at Pamodzi Hotel on Tuesday evening.
Dr Msiska said there were a number of benefits for Zambia in the programme.
The deal entails that within 15 years, Russia will assist Zambia train young nuclear energy engineers, plan for nuclear power plant personnel, develop a nuclear energy regulator and build a nuclear plant, which will provide medicine, agricultural services and energy.
Dr Msiska said apart from developing Zambia's capability to operate nuclear energy, the country would be turned into a hub of nuclear medicine for cancer treatment in the region.
The development of nuclear science will halt load-shedding as a result of the alternative energy.
Dr Msiska said that nuclear science would also create 10 jobs for each job created in the nuclear plant.
"This is the result of the instruction by President Lungu for the country to develop nuclear energy to respond to challenges of load-shedding and reduce the cost of medicine and agriculture," he said.
Dr Msiska said the onus, however, was on the media to help demystify nuclear science, which in Zambia was frowned upon due to a perception that it was dangerous.
The second agreement was between the Ministry of Health and ROSTECHNADZOR, which would strengthen cooperation in Nuclear Safety and regulation.
This MoU will pave way for the Russian Federation to assist Zambia to enhance the capacity of the Radiation Protection Authority by developing a regulatory framework appropriate for heightened nuclear and radiation activities.
The third MoU is between the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services and ROSATOM on cooperation in enhancement of public awareness of nuclear energy in Zambia.
Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Godfrey Malama, who signed one of the agreements, said the Government expected communication agents to effectively convey messages that would positively impact on citizens for the successful development of the nuclear programme.
Mr Malama said the agreement was aimed at enhancing public awareness and acceptance of nuclear energy in the country using the experience and expertise of the Russian Federation.
He said Zambia would work jointly with the Russian Federation to develop educational materials on nuclear energy in both English and local languages to promote and increase public awareness on nuclear energy.
The fourth is a project development Agreement between JSC Rusatom Overseas and Ministry of High Education for the construction of the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Zambia.
Ministry of Higher Education Permanent Secretary Owen Mugemezulu said Zambia was hungry for development and ROSATOM would respond to that need.
He said the Government would plan for a nuclear law.
Mr Mugemezulu said 20 Zambians were already in Russia studying nuclear energy.
Mr Spassky said there was need to get public acceptance of nuclear science.
He said that even if it sounded complicated, nuclear energy could be explained.
Mr Spassky said the MoU signing was important to Russia because it signalled a beginning of stronger bilateral ties.
"More importantly, this signing is strategic to our relations. We are investing in the future of Zambia-Russia ties," he said.
Mr Spassky said the ties would be long-term and spearheaded by the youth who would develop cheaper and sustainable energy, jobs and medicine.