By Jacob Okwii
As Uganda intensifies her quest to have nuclear energy on the national grid by 2031, the head of Nuclear Energy unit in the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, has disclosed that 15 percent of all consumables required in the construction of five planned nuclear power plants, will be from local content.
Sarah Nafuna Mudoko made this revelation in an interview with The Infrastructure Magazine, stressing that Uganda is on track with the plans to develop nuclear energy facilities by 2031.
“We anticipate that Ugandan local manufactured construction materials like cement, iron bars, hard core, sand and others will be required. These will be purchased locally,” she said.
She said a range of other consumables and manpower needs will be sourced locally ranging from expert, artisan to manual labour. She said there will also be opportunities to supply items like food workers who will be working on the construction sites.
According to Sabbiti Baguma a nuclear energy engineer, construction of the power plants is expected to take a period of 5-7 years. Baguma, who doubles as a national coordinator African Regional Agreement for Research Development and Training related to nuclear science and technology, (AFRA), said the government has finalized studies to identify the right locations for the power plants.
“Ideal areas to host these plants should be free from hazards like floods, prolonged droughts and bombs among others which are damaging to power plants. We have zeroed in on a number of districts of Uganda which have been verified to have sufficient water sources that will support the power plants,” he said.
Among the five districts identified are Mubende, Muyende, Lamwo, Nakasongola and Kiruhura.
“Construction should start in 2022 and a lot has been put in place to shape this process. Government is also identifying the best technologies on the market that is tested, from international expertise and experience. Such technologies should be tested over time to be safe and used in a peaceful application of power,” Baguma added.
The five power plants are expected to produce 2,000MW of electricity, which is expected to go a long way to address the problem of power shortages in the country.
Mudoko said the government is currently searching for the right vendors to help government in overseeing the nuclear energy infrastructure development process.
“The Government of Uganda has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Russia to provide a framework in the development of nuclear energy in Uganda. We are also pursuing China, South Korea, France and Japan as potential vendors in the development of nuclear energy.”