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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Raila holds talks with nuclear Agency


Written By:PMPS , Posted: Tue, Dec 08, 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed to partner with Kenya in the country´s quest to develop nuclear energy as an alternative source of power.

During talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the agency's headquarters in Vienna Tuesday, the new Director General of the IAEA Mr Yukiya Amano said he is keen to have the agency become a useful tool in addressing needs of developing nations that have little access to advanced technology.

Mr Odinga held talks with the IAEA director after opening the 13th Session of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO, in Vienna.

The Prime Minister said he had instructed the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology to work closely with the atomic energy agency in areas like agricultural development, health, especially cancer treatment, and energy generation.

Mr Odinga said energy is a basic need for a country's economic development.

He said reliance on hydro-electric power has however failed Kenya as it fluctuates, making the country's economy unable to compete with big and competing African economies like South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.

"Unreliable rainfall patterns has affected our power generation and left us badly exposed. We have to look into alternative sources of power and nuclear looks a credible, long term alternative," Mr Odinga said.

"We are exploring geothermal, wind, solar and biofuels. But we have decided as a government that we must pursue nuclear also for purposes of longer term needs," he added.

He asked the atomic energy agency to help Kenya build the capacity by training local scientists on development of nuclear power.

He also asked the agency to partner with the Ministry of Higher education to educate Kenyans on the use of nuclear for peaceful purposes so as to dispel the stigma currently attached to nuclear science.

"When you talk about nuclear energy among laymen, people think of nuclear weapons. They think we are going to war. We must begin to educate our people that there are peaceful and productive uses for nuclear science. It is not just for weapons," the PM said.

He asked the atomic energy agency to set up a program that will see Kenyans come for training with the agency in readiness for Kenya's pursuit of nuclear energy.

Responding, Mr Amano said the use of nuclear power has been limited to the Developed Countries, which he said should not be the case.

He congratulated Kenya for considering nuclear energy to cushion the country from fluctuating effects of hydro power.

"You don't need to worry. Almost everyone in the developing world lacks expertise in this area and everyone else is just beginning to think of going nuclear. So you have begun at the right time," Mr Amano said.

He said capacity building would be important as the country prepares to pursue nuclear energy, adding that his agency could help with funding and drafting of relevant legislation dealing with installation and use of nuclear energy.

He said Kenya would also have to commit to support a code of conduct and regulations governing use of nuclear power for peaceful means.

"We will have to give priority to building the human capacity in your country and training. I assure you of support," Mr Amano said.

He said setting up nuclear power is expensive but in the long run, it is cheaper than all the other alternatives once it is in place.

Industrialization Minister Mr Henry Kosgey is accompanying the Prime Minister to the UNIDO conference.

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