Nigeria seeks IAEA help for nuclear power plants

Publish date: February 14, 2005

Nigeria has asked the world's nuclear watchdog for help in building two atomic power plants to supply electricity to the energy-starved oil exporting nation.

Nigerian Science and Technology Minister Turner Isoun made the request during a four-day visit of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the West African nation. “We would like to seek the assistance and support of the IAEA for the development of two full scale 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity,” Isoun was quoted as saying at a dinner on January21, Reuters reported.

Nigeria commissioned its first nuclear reactor, a small academic research reactor at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, last year. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and has huge oil and gas resources, but corruption by successive governments and inefficiency in the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) have led to massive shortfalls in power supply. Investors cite constant blackouts as one of the country’s top economic hurdles, and they spend millions of dollars every year on diesel-fuelled generators to keep industry running. NEPA, which currently supplies about 2,600 megawatts, has been split into seven generating companies, 11 distribution firms and one transmission company ahead of its planned privatisation later this year.

Nigerian officials insisted that they were seeking nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and pointed to the country’s ratification of the non-proliferation treaty and additional protocols as evidence of that. Formally IAEA cannot reject Nigeria’s request as the world’s nuclear watchdog was established to promote peaceful nuclear energy.