By Henry Akubiiro
Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, Abubakar Mallam Umar, Ikeja, Lagos, 2021, p. 126
the The United States of America, China, France, Russia and South Korea are at the forefront of countries maximizing the use of nuclear energy worldwide. Of the 15 largest nuclear power plants in the world, two are in North America (USA and Canada), five in Asia and seven in Europe. Unfortunately none are from Africa.
That means Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, has not realized its nuclear potential as expected. In his book Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, Abubakar Mallam Umar, a PhD in nuclear and radiation physicist with a career spanning thirty years in science and energy, has analyzed the enormity of Nigeria’s nuclear energy needs and set out a pathfinding trajectory.
In the foreword, Professor Abubakar Sani Sambo, former Special Adviser to the President on Energy and former Vice Chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, states that a strong and responsive energy policy is the most important panacea for the successful implementation of any national energy agenda. while Professor Shamsideen Elegba, pioneering Director-General/CEO of the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), commended the author for making a timely, “interesting debut in the national discourse on the development and use of nuclear energy in particular, and energy security in general”. , considering that nuclear power generation considerations in the country began more than forty years ago.
In the introductory chapter, the author enlightens us about the primary sources of energy: coal, biomass, solar, wind, power, oil, hydro, nuclear and natural gas. Nigeria, we learn, is blessed with all of this. But despite this equipment, Nigeria has not been able to generate more than 3 GW of national grid standard electricity from a total installed capacity of 12.5 GW for many years. The author therefore laments: “The landscape of the electricity sector is characterized by shortcomings and inefficiencies throughout the value chain: generation, transmission and distribution” (p. 10).
Umar defines Nigeria’s policy framework in relation to the sector, stating, “The overarching thrust of Nigeria’s National Energy Policy (NEC) is the optimal use of the country’s energy resources for sustainable development.” Given the size of the Nigerian economy and its status as a distinct entity developing economy, he claims that existing conventional energy infrastructure cannot meet national needs; “It must be complemented by any other new systems that may be available to the country for some time to go down this path” (p. 15).
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In this policy book, as Umar attempts to bring a fresh perspective to the conversation and make valuable contributions to strengthening Nigeria’s nuclear energy development process, the reader will appreciate the tremendous work done in the second and seventh chapters. These chapters cover topics such as an overview of nuclear energy strategies and plans, nuclear energy resources and infrastructure framework, nuclear energy, and nuclear energy technology assessment.
The book also discusses the geopolitics of nuclear energy issues, insights and challenges related to nuclear energy issues and visions for nuclear energy in Nigeria.
Although not commonly known to a layperson, Nigeria is blessed with uranium. The author writes: “The country was involved in extensive exploration for natural solid resources, including uranium, from pre-colonial times until the 1914 merger. After independence, however, exploration activities intensified, especially for uranium in the 1970s, it was neither exploited nor quantified…” (p. 26). However, he makes it clear that the main policy of the Nigerian nuclear program is exclusively peace.
The author then uses illustrations to explain to the reader what is worth knowing about nuclear technology for generating energy. The peculiarities of nuclear energy in Nigeria are worked out, as is the development of authorities and institutions for the implementation of framework conditions for nuclear energy in the country.
In Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, the author draws our attention to Nigeria’s existing agreement with the Russian State Atomic Energy Company (ROSATOM), which is based on a four-phase project execution program of 4.8 GW to be delivered to the country’s grid. In the meantime, we are told, new players are emerging with different types of reactor designs, taking advantage of “the favorable investment climate in the industry”.
One of the most revealing parts of this book is the unfolding of his vision for nuclear energy in Nigeria, discussed in the concluding chapter, based on the fact that successful policy must focus not only on the problems as they exist today, but also on clear ones give visions for tomorrow. “The way forward could be marked by a series of strategic policy reviews and action plans,” he suggests (p. 107). These detailed strategic measures can be found in the book. Can’t you find out for yourself?