News / Africa

Nigeria Plans Nuclear Power for Development

FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Heather Murdock
— On Monday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said his country intends to harness nuclear energy for development purposes - which to most Nigerians means one thing: providing electricity. But some analysts say that Nigeria should figure out how to keep the lights on with the huge natural resources it already has. 
 
Nigeria’s nuclear aspirations began in 2007, when then-President Umaru Yar'Adua said the country planned to add nuclear power to the national grid by 2017. 
 
The original deadline seems to be off the table, but officials say the plan is still on track.
 
“Nigeria is on course in its plan to have nuclear power that is used for nuclear energy for peaceful use. And one of the things we’ve done is to have the institutional framework in place,” said Eli Jidere Bala, the director general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria.
 
Bala said Nigeria has established a regulator, research facilities and is working with the International Atomic Energy Association.
 
“We are planning between 1,000 megawatts and 2,000 megawatts for the first instance before, very shortly. I know it takes time to plan nuclear. You must plan.  It takes about eight years for planning etc., etc. So we are targeting at 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts,” explained Bala.
 
Nigeria currently has a capacity of just 4,000 megawatts, which means roughly half the country's 160 million people have no electricity at all, and most others only have it for a few hours a day.
 
Nigerian journalist and commentator Wole Olaoye has been covering the power sector here for nearly four decades. He said that since Nigeria became a democracy in 1999, every president has promised to provide electricity for the entire country.
 
“President Jonathan promised us, ‘Oh, in 18 months’ he would do it. Then it became 24 months. Then it became 36 months. Then it became 2014. Now they are saying 2015,” said Olayoe.
 
Even if the government’s plan to add nuclear power to the national grid comes to fruition, he added, he doesn’t think it’s a good one.
 
Oil-rich Nigeria already has more than enough national resources to provide enough power for everyone, he said, but the power sector is wracked with corruption and mismanagement. While the country may have the expertise to develop nuclear power, it doesn’t have the capacity to maintain power plants safely, he added.
 
“We have security problems in Nigeria right now. And I don’t want to think of a situation where we will manage the fallout of a nuclear leakage. With the level of incompetence with which have treated our hydro-power stations, I don’t see us managing nuclear power competently and efficiently,” said Olayoe.
 
Olaoye said introducing anything that could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction into Nigeria, where Boko Haram militants have been fighting the government since 2009, could be extraordinarily dangerous. 
 
Other analysts support the president’s plan, saying nuclear energy can also be used for medical reasons, to make drinkable water from seawater, or for space programs. 
 
Given the amount of controversy that nuclear energy programs can generate, they say, the Nigerian president wouldn’t bring it up if he was not serious.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid