9 May 2019

Rwanda, Morocco Sign Deal to Scale Up Nuclear Technology

Photo: allafrica.com
From left: Rabat, capital city of Morocco and Kigali, capital city of Rwanda,.

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), and Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security have signed a cooperation agreement to exchange information and experience in nuclear technology.

Speaking after signing the agreement, Dr Khammar Mrabit, the Director General of the Moroccan agency, said that they have experience since 2016.

"We have to exchange information and experience in nuclear radiation, help in capacity building as it is very important to strengthen regional cooperation among African countries in this sector.

We have to share our experience of the technology in medical practices, security purposes, airports operations among other," he said.

He said that, in Morocco, 80 per cent of medical applications use the technology adding that there are 24 nuclear medicine centers.

"More than 15 per cent of industries and security sectors use nuclear technology and 5 per cent in research and development use it," he said while sharing the experience with RURA.

He noted that they use the energy in food and seeds production. It is said that with the technology the seeds can resist climate change as well as pests.

"Using nuclear technology goes with protecting people, property and the environment by regulating the activities using radiation sources. In our agency we have four departments; namely that in charge of nuclear safety, nuclear security and safeguards, radiation safety and environment protection as well as finance administration," he said.

Mrabit said that they are ready to provide any training for Rwandan experts as well as facilitate scientific visits to nuclear installations.

Patrick Nyirishema, Director General of RURA, said the Memorandum of Understanding with the Moroccan agency was timely considering that Rwanda has taken steps to adopt the technology.

He said a law was enacted in 2018 and all procedures ahead need expert interventions.

"We hope that sectors of medicine, agriculture and livestock, mining, industries, security, import and export will further develop thanks to the cooperation," he said.

Jean de Dieu Tuyisenge, the Director of Radiation Safety Regulation at RURA, said that having established the law and drafted regulations and codes of practices, Rwanda remains to ratify about seven conventions regarding the technology.

Potential operators and sources

Tuyisenge said that mining is one of the sectors to be boosted by the technology.

"We hope to use nuclear and radiation technology to detect different minerals across the country instead of relying on traditional way of identifying deposits. Some of the minerals might also have nuclear elements which increases its value on the market," he said.

He added that Rwanda seeks to set up a nuclear research centre that would have nuclear reactors to develop technology for different sectors such as agriculture, electricity generation and others.

"There are more than 60 medical facilities equipped with medical radiological equipment, diagnostic radiology and dental radiology, one radiotherapy center, one veterinary radiotherapy facility with X-ray machine, security scanners including cars and trucks scanners..," he said.

The plan is being worked on by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the National Commission for Science and Technology.

Officials said talks are underway with Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), to set up the centre as soon as possible.

The cooperation could see Rwanda and Russia establish study programmes that will help Rwandans acquire advanced knowledge in nuclear sciences, with the University of Rwanda training students from the undergrad level, and Master's level and PhDs.

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