Kenya picks nuclear plant site

Kenya nuclear plant.
A nuclear power station site in China. PHOTO/COURTESY
The government of Kenya has identified construction sites for a nuclear powerplant, potentially the first in Africa outside South Africa.

A senior engineer for the Kenyan government, Rolex Kirui, recently said one site has been identified near the coastal region and construction will begin as soon as an ongoing environmental study is completed.

Kirui added that a second potential site has been identified in western Kenya, next to Lake Victoria.

Plans for the Kenya nuclear plant’s construction were first announced by Energy minister, Kiraitu Murungi, in October last year.

Murungi recently told SciDev.Net that there is a shortage of 3,000 megawatts of electricity for the country. Kenya produces only 1,100 megawatts of electricity annually and is ranked 22nd in Africa.

“With nuclear energy there is potential to generate four times that amount or even more,” he said.

South Africa is the only county in Africa to have a fully operational nuclear power plant. Nigeria and Egypt are in the process of planning their own plants. Kenya is, however, the first to both identify a site and undergo an environmental study.

The construction of the Ksh80 billion (US$1 billion) project could begin in September 2010 once a feasibility study is complete.

However, it will take at least five years before the plant is operational as extensive inspection must be carried out by authorities such as the Radiation Protection Board and the National Environmental Management Authority. 

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