The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Kenya the green light to proceed with preparations for its first nuclear plant following a week-long assessment.
The agency, whose 11 experts have been in the country for the past week, Monday said Kenya met most of the terms and conditions of the IAEA necessary for the approval of a nuclear power plant including building skilled manpower.
But the atomic agency, which promotes the peaceful use of nuclear, has asked Kenya to develop a legal framework.
“Kenya is well prepared to move ahead with the nuclear programme,” IAEA nuclear infrastructure development section team leader Jose Bastos said on Monday during the release of a preliminary report in Nairobi.
Kenya views nuclear power both as a long-term solution to high fuel costs, incurred during times of drought when diesel generators are used, and an effective way to cut reliance on weather dependent hydro power.
Dozens of Kenyan students have either graduated or are pursuing masters degrees in nuclear science in universities in South Korea and the US while others are based at the University of Nairobi.
Kenya looks to set up a series of nuclear power plants, each with a capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts from 2023 to meet the country’s needs beyond 2030 when it looks to industrialise.
Kenya’s electricity installed capacity currently stands at 2,298MW.
The injection of nuclear electricity to the grid aims to diversify the country’s energy mix which comprises geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, wind and the planned coal plant in Lamu.
The government has said that nuclear is a more reliable and affordable alternative source of energy priced at between 8 and 10 US cents (Sh8 and Sh10) per unit.
This story was first published by the Business Daily.