Rwanda: Cabinet Approves Draft Law on Body to Oversee Nuclear Energy Technologies

28 October 2020

Rwanda on Tuesday, October 27, took a step closer to realising its peaceful nuclear energy ambitions after a cabinet meeting endorsed a piece of draft legislation establishing an oversight authority for the technologies.

The meeting approved the presidential order establishing Rwanda Atomic Energy Board, reads part of the meeting minutes signed by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.

The proposed body, one of the first public agencies to be established through a presidential order after parliament earlier this year backed a government request to that effect, will, among others, coordinate research and development of nuclear energy activities in the country.

The development comes a few months after parliament voted in support of an October 24, 2019 agreement between Rwanda and Russia, which provides for cooperation in the construction of a centre of nuclear science and technology in Rwanda.

After yesterday's approval, the presidential order establishing Rwanda Atomic Energy Board is now expected to be published in the official gazette anytime soon, paving the way for appointment of its leaders and staff recruitment.

RAEB's mandate

Rwanda Atomic Energy Board, or RAEB, will "monitor and coordinate safety and security and support nuclear energy applications for sustainable social-economic development aligned with the National Strategy for Transformation and Vision 2050," according to a government document explaining its mandate.

RAEB, it adds, will "coordinate the implementation of the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology project."

The envisioned centre is expected to "develop integrated nuclear energy solutions which the Ministry of Infrastructure expects to be beneficial to the advancement of several sectors of the economy especially agriculture, health, education, sciences and industry."

Rwanda is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and says its future nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes and will meet international standards.

Potential benefits outlined

"RAEB will play a significant role in accelerating nuclear development in the key sectors of; agriculture, health, electricity generation pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, industry, environment, geology and mining," according to a concept note developed by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

It adds that, in the agriculture sector, nuclear-based applications (radiation techniques) would be used to "increase food crop production through improved soil water nutrients and pest management; and improve livestock productivity through breeding, artificial insemination and disease control."

It will also "improve food safety from harmful residues and contaminants in food products due to pesticides. This, in turn, will improve the quality of foods exported and boost the country's exports."

In the health sector, "nuclear technology can be applied to conduct accurate medical diagnosis and used in the treatment of certain diseases such as cancer and others."

In the energy sector, this technology will support the current government's ambition of transitioning to a low-carbon emission by generating and developing a nuclear power plant that is a clean source of energy considering its zero carbon emission, the document adds.

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