On November 29-30 Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom co-hosted an African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN) Integrated Nuclear Workshop on the sidelines of Future Energy East Africa Conference in Nairobi Kenya. The workshop focused on the benefits and opportunities of nuclear energy and technologies for African nations.
During the discussions experts and researchers outlined the importance of nuclear power development for emerging countries. Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom Vice-President for Sub-Saharan Africa, mentioned that, “should Africa want to ensure future sustainable growth, nuclear energy should be considered as a vital component of its energy mix, as a lack of energy access is a major hurdle for the continent on its way toward dynamic economic growth.”
Mr. Polikarpov explained that although Africa’s is economy is growing rapidly and is expected to reach 3.5 trillion USD by 2025 nearly half of the 54 countries on the continent are currently experiencing an energy crisis, with more than 620 million people living without access to electricity.
Shortage of sustainable and affordable energy sources make it difficult for Africa to implement its strategic goals against the background of growing urbanization as well as demands for employment and modern infrastructure. Africa is said to be the home of the fourth industrial revolution but it requires the provision of mass baseload energy supply in order for this to become a reality.
Mr. Polikarpov pointed out that nuclear power is reliable, environmentally friendly and an affordable source of base load power. It can create a platform for continued investment into much needed infrastructure in emerging countries. Moreover, nuclear technologies with other clean sources such as wind solar and hydro generation form a ‘green square’ which will essentially become the base for the world's future carbon-free energy mix.
Nuclear technologies have a broad range of applications, from medicine to water desalination. With nuclear innovations quality of life can be improved significantly. Development of nuclear sector brings about a great deal of social benefits as well. Global experience shows that the nuclear sector is one of the major employers in industrial sector. Lower electricity prices at the same time increase market competitiveness and push forward GDP growth, which has a direct effect on employment, especially among the youth. For instance, one workplace in nuclear industry creates approximately three others in collateral spheres such as infrastructure and civil engineering.
The summit brought together young and senior nuclear professionals from across the globe specialising in academia, research and development, radiation services, healthcare, nuclear operation, as well as nuclear regulators to share, exchange ideas and network on issues related to nuclear science and technology on the continent.
As the first African Youth Nuclear Summit, the purpose of the summit, among other objectives was to strengthen networks among young professionals in nuclear science and technology opening up future opportunities for the African youth.