Public Sensitization Needed for Nuclear Power Plant, Say Buyende District Leaders

Kenya Aims for Nuclear Power Plant by 2027 to Meet Growing Energy Needs
As of now, South Africa is the only African country with a commercial nuclear plant, contributing five percent of its electricity. In contrast, nuclear power accounts for 47 percent of electricity generation in the United States.
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A group of leaders from Buyende District has appealed to the government to conduct public awareness campaigns to address concerns and misconceptions surrounding the planned nuclear power plant in the area. The request comes amid fears and growing speculations about the potential dangers associated with the project.

In April 2015, the Cabinet approved the Nuclear Power Roadmap Development Strategy, aiming to establish a 2,000MW nuclear power infrastructure to diversify Uganda’s energy generation mix. The move is in response to the increasing demand for electricity for security and industrialization purposes.

After a feasibility study in 2019, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development identified Buyende as one of the potential sites for the power plant. However, Buyende Woman Representative, Mary Annet Nakato, expressed concerns that ongoing activities related to the project are happening without the knowledge and participation of the affected people.

Nakato warned that speculators spreading rumors about potential dangers are pressuring people to sell their land, creating a sense of urgency to vacate the area. Michael Kanaku, the Buyende LCV Chairperson, echoed Nakato’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for the government to conduct public awareness activities to dispel misinformation and involve the affected population.

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Dr. Eng. Lammeck Kajubi, the President and CEO at M/S Queensland & Leeds Consulting Engineers, countered the claims, stating that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process involved stakeholder consultations, and issues raised were integrated into the report.

The draft SEA report was presented at a validation meeting attended by various stakeholders, including energy experts, Civil Society Organization representatives, Members of Parliament, and academics. The leaders emphasized the importance of sensitization and proper compensation for those affected by the project.

Emmanuel Wamala, the Assistant Commissioner of Nuclear Fuel and Radioactive Waste in the Ministry of Energy, assured that the leaders’ concerns would be incorporated into the final report to guide further interventions.

The development of Uganda’s nuclear energy power plant has gained momentum, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) endorsing the project in December 2021. Uganda joins other sub-Saharan countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Zambia, and Nigeria, in integrating nuclear energy into their energy mixes between 2030 and 2037.

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