The President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (Nigatom), Simon Pesco Mallam, made the disclosure at the just-concluded 2018 AtomExpo in Sochi, Russia.
Mallam told The Guardian exclusively: "We have a roadmap and that is by the mid 2020s. We hope we can get a commercial plant and add three more in five to 10 years."
As to whether Nigeria would be partnering with Russia or not, he said: "We have a good agreement with Russia, but we have not signed any contractual agreements yet. We have signed operational agreements, project development agreements, but not any commercial contractual agreements."
On when the deal could become reality, he said: "I can't give a particular time, so you don't come back and say I promised you so and so date. But just know that it is in the works, and in a few years, we will all see the results."
Mallam refuted reports that Nigeria had signed multi-billion dollar agreements. "Some newspapers (not The Guardian) have been claiming that we signed a $20 billion contract with Russia. But I want to tell you categorically that this is not true. We have only cooperation agreement with Russia, and we are hoping that if all works well, we would develop the infrastructure and eventually sign a contractual agreement with them. But we are not closing our doors to other partners that may be interested and are ready to work with them. If we work with Russia, fine. But if we need to work with others, we are fine with that as well," he said.
Mallam's rebuttal was of the story that Nigeria in October 2017 signed a deal with Russia for the construction of two nuclear power plants. It claimed: Nigeria began talks with Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, in April 2015 to collaborate on design, construction and operation of four nuclear power plants by 2035, the first of which will be in operation by 2025. In June 2015, Nigeria selected two sites for the planned construction of the nuclear plants. Neither the Nigerian government nor Rosatom would disclose the specific locations of the sites, but it is believed that the plants would be sited in the states of Akwa Ibom and Kogi.
Nuclear energy is the future for Nigeria, said Mallam. "Power generation is still very poor in the country, and even gas that was touted as better has now become problematic. We can't supply gas to our IPPs and gas pipes are being sabotaged daily. We need to move from the former way of doing things into the future," he added.
But Zambia might already have stepped into tomorrow as it signed a contract for the construction of a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology with Rosatom.
The centre will be located 10 kilometres from the capital, Lusaka. It will include a nuclear research facility based on a multipurpose research water-cooled reactor of up to 10 MW, a state-of-the-art laboratory complex, multipurpose irradiation centre as well as a cyclotron-based nuclear medicine centre.
The project will be implemented in several stages within three to six years from the work commencement date stated in the contract.
The General Director of State Specialised Design Institute JSC (GSPI), Vyacheslav Galushkov, signed the document on behalf of Russia, while the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education of the Republic of Zambia, Mabvuto Sakala, signed on behalf of his country. The General Director of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev and Minister of Energy of the Republic of Zambia, Mathew Nkhuwa, witnessed the signing.
The construction of the centre is the first joint project between both countries in the field of nuclear technology.