In its bid to become East Africa’s first member country to build a nuclear power plant, and the second in Africa after South Africa, Uganda acquired land this year (2022) to ready it for construction. The Minister of State for Energy’s announcement did however not specifically name the location of the potential site.
This move comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cleared the country and approved its plans to build nuclear power infrastructure on the 9th of May, 2022. The agency has also pledged to help Uganda develop this and other nuclear plants; specifically, by offering participating institutions and personnel capacity building services tailored for nuclear power infrastructure development. Only 22 masters-level qualified nuclear engineers exist currently in Uganda – a major indicator of the shortfall in sector-specific expertise.
Uganda will be adopting the IAEA’s three-step methodology for initiating a nuclear industry. This will include the IAEA training nuclear talent for the project and Uganda setting its obligations with respect to building the plant; after which an approved nuclear institution is formed to facilitate preparatory project work; then the power plant construction is started to officially initiate the project.
For a start, the country is planning to have built a 2000MW power plant by 2032. The plant is foreseeably a crucial addition to Uganda’s energy infrastructure; possibly upping its power generation capacity to 17000MW in the medium term to match constantly growing demand. Aside from energy provision, the power plant will affect Uganda’s national policies and legal framework in the long-term; as the project, being a first of its kind, calls for adjustment of some policies and addition of new ones where necessary.