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Nuclear Power for sustainable development


by Liandro Mensah
Columns

 

 

 

Namibia plans to generate electricity from its own nuclear reactor by 2018.Our republic, therefore, is currently in an engaging process of finalising all the necessary policy options to start generating or producing nuclear energy on home soil.
Namibia holds about 7% of the world’s uranium reserves, which are mined to fuel nuclear power stations around the world. Now the Government has committed to a policy position of supplying its own electricity from nuclear power.
One might constitute our urge to finish this process due to the country’s severe challenges in power supply as this is an essential component for any developing country such as Namibia. Sustainable electricity supply is one of the vital catalysts towards the attainment of Vision 2030. But with this bold endeavour, by our Government come many challenges and sacrifices.
We are fortunate that our ‘Founding Fathers of the Namibian Constitution’ have ensured that the necessary provision for policy formulation(s) is enshrined in the ‘Rules of the Land’. Article 95(I) of the constitution stipulates the Promotion of the Welfare of the People. It states that the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following:  maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory.”
But as we know, taking such a mammoth step in the interest of developing these types of initiatives takes courage, sacrifices and considerations. Issues we need to take into consideration range from the management and storage of nuclear and toxic waste; the cost of developing this nuclear energy and its ultimate unit price for household, the protection of some popular tourist destinations and site where this project will be located and finding the right developing partner for this industry and the nuclear power station in particular. It will be interesting to see who our ultimate partners will be, as some of the ‘Economic Powerhouses’ are in the process of decommissioning all of their nuclear power stations after the nuclear disaster in Japan.
But in contrast to all these challenges that we will face during the development of this idea, various economic benefits are installed for the country as we are well aware. If I am to mention a few, Namibia will most definitely ease the burden of the South African electricity manufacturing giant Eskom, by producing its own electricity. We would be able to supply a large sector with electricity in Sadc thereby aiding various countries with their own development programs and efforts; this is definitely the most attractive niche of this project. And finally, the one thing we all want to hear is that it will contribute to the reduction of unemployment in the country, especially with its unique spill over effect is by supplying sufficient electricity to various developing ventures, such as the manufacturing industry.
I welcome this vision of our Government but I would like to think of myself as a Green Energy supporter. I trust that the desired policy will include the establishment of a nuclear waste management fund, black economic empowerment through equity participation in the uranium sector, skills transfer to Namibians and using uranium only for peaceful purposes.