Kenya will require at least KES11bn ($82m) to develop its first nuclear research reactor as a step towards a future nuclear power programme. The state-run Nuclear Power & Energy Agency (NuPEA) plans to request the funding from the Treasury in two tranches to help in meeting 40% of the initial costs of the project.

NuPEA will require KES3bn in 2026 and KES8bn in 2027 for the project, in order to accelerate economic development. The agency says in the recently launched 2023-2027 strategic plan that the reactor will have wide applications in education and training, health, industry, energy, and research.

“The main utilisations envisaged include: enhancing national research and development capabilities and intergovernmental collaborations; improving and encouraging industrial competitiveness; enhancing material structure study for various applications; quality in material design and manufacturing; production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications; improving calibration and testing services for industrial and medical instruments; and education and training of students and staff of various institutions,” said NuPEA.

This will be the single largest project for NuPEA, which requires KES32.5bn to implement its five-year plan. It has already acquired 65 acres at Konza Technopolis for construction of the research reactor and other nuclear research facilities. In December 2023, Kenya hosted a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review the preparations for the research reactor programme. The mission concluded Kenya had made “significant progress” in the development of the national nuclear infrastructure for the programme. Kenya plans to commission its first research reactor between 2030 and 2034 and to start the work in 2026.

Earlier in March Kenya launched a strategic plan and roadmap for nuclear power development. Alex Wachira, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum said the plan provides guidelines for developing the infrastructure to safely construct, operate, maintain and decommission nuclear facilities. The aim is to start construction of its first NPP in 2027 for commissioning in 2034. In September 2023 NuPEA announced a potential project for a 1,000 MWe NPP to be sited in either Kilifi or Kwale. The plan shows it will require KES4.645bn for infrastructure including KES2.9bn to acquire 400 acres of land for the plant by the end of 2025.

Image: Energy Principal Secretary Alex Waxchira (third left) with DPP Renson Ingonga (right) and the management of Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) led by CEO Justus Wabuyabo and board chair Ezra Odhiambo during the launch of the strategic plan (courtesy of NuPEA)