Niger trains eyes on nuclear power to stem erratic electricity supply
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded an eight-day mission to Niger to review its infrastructure development for a nuclear power programme.
The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) was carried out at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Niger.
Niger, whose economic development is hampered by a lack of consistent electricity supply, is considering a potential role for nuclear power in its energy mix. A country of about 21 million people in Western Africa, Niger is currently ranked as the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium ore.
The INIR team observed a strong Government commitment to developing the infrastructure for a nuclear power programme. The Government has established a Strategic Orientation Committee for the Nuclear Power Programme chaired by the Prime Minister, and a National Technical Committee for the Nuclear Power Programme chaired by the President of the Nigerien High Authority for Atomic Energy (HANEA).
Those two committees form the Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization (NEPIO). Niger has already completed or initiated several studies related to nuclear infrastructure development, and prepared a comprehensive report summarizing the results.
“The INIR mission was conducted in a cooperative and open atmosphere,” said team leader Anthony Stott of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section. “We had good discussions during the mission which provided further information to the team for each of the 19 infrastructure issues that are addressed during an INIR mission.”
The team comprised international experts from France, Morocco, Spain, and the United Kingdom as well as IAEA staff. It reviewed the status of 19 nuclear power programme infrastructure issues using the IAEA Nuclear Energy Series Evaluation of the Status of National Infrastructure Development.
Prior to the INIR mission, which was supported by the Division for Africa in the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Department, Niger prepared a Self-Evaluation Report covering all infrastructure issues and submitted the report and supporting documents to the IAEA.
The team made recommendations and suggestions, highlighting areas where further action would benefit Niger, including: developing an integrated view of the overall nuclear power plant project costs, continuing to assess and develop the legal and regulatory framework and ensuring that all necessary elements of a national policy and strategy for safety are taken into account, and strengthening the management and documentation of the activities being undertaken for developing the nuclear power programme.
The team also identified good practices that would benefit other countries considering the introduction of nuclear power, including the strong connection between the two committees that form the NEPIO, and the engagement with neighbouring countries to inform them of Niger’s plans.
Dr Zeinabou Mindaoudou Souley, President of HANEA, welcomed the outcome of the INIR mission. “Niger is committed to the careful step-by-step development of its nuclear power programme. This INIR mission was a really enriching experience that will help us to move forward,” Mindaoudou Souley said. “The recommendations and suggestions from the INIR mission will be thoroughly reviewed and addressed to strengthen the rationale for Niger moving forward with the development of nuclear power.”