In a recent address, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Uganda, Matthias Schauer, voiced concerns about Uganda’s intention to invest in nuclear power plants. Schauer, who is known for supporting Uganda’s clean energy initiatives, cited the high cost and environmental sensitivity associated with nuclear power generation.
His remarks were made during the launch of Uganda’s Energy Policy for 2023 at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. Schauer questioned the compatibility of nuclear power plants with the objectives outlined in the new policy.
The Ambassador highlighted Uganda’s abundant hydropower resources and immense potential for solar power, factors that have garnered admiration from industrialized nations like Germany. It’s worth noting that Germany itself ceased electricity production from nuclear power plants earlier this year due to concerns related to nuclear disasters, such as the Chornobyl incident in 1986 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.
While the Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary, Irene Bateebe, previously estimated the cost of building a nuclear power plant in Uganda at nine billion dollars, Ambassador Schauer pointed out that such endeavors typically require between 15 to 20 billion dollars.
Uganda’s new energy policy, which replaces the 2002 version, incorporates nuclear energy into the country’s energy mix. The policy suggests exploring public-private partnerships for investments in nuclear power development, including decommissioning, spent fuel, and radioactive waste management.
In the past, the government proposed a phased approach to construct the first reactors for the 2000-megawatt nuclear power plant by the end of 2031. Vision 2040 also identifies nuclear energy as a potential solution to Uganda’s energy deficit.
State Minister for Energy, Sidronius Okaasi Opolot, emphasized Uganda’s commitment to pursuing nuclear energy as part of its quest for clean and sustainable energy sources.
Under the new policy, the goal is to have 24,000 megawatts of nuclear energy in place by 2040, accounting for 48% of the energy mix. The estimated cost for each megawatt of nuclear power is 6.77 million dollars, making the entire project amount to over 162 million dollars or more than 604 trillion shillings.
President Museveni expressed his determination to harness nuclear energy for socio-economic development, citing the halt of uranium exports as evidence of Uganda’s need for electricity. He emphasized the reliability of nuclear power and its importance in Africa.
To support these ambitions, the Ministry of Energy is working on revising the 2008 Atomic Energy Act to create a new nuclear energy law as part of the nuclear development program.