Kenya has launched a strategic plan and roadmap for nuclear power development. Alex Wachira, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum, told journalists that the plan provides guidelines for developing the infrastructure to safely construct, operate, maintain and decommission nuclear facilities. "The strategic plan proposes practical interventions to ensure Kenya commences construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2027 and commissions it in 2034," he said.

According to the ministry, Kenya's domestic installed capacity is about 3,073 MWe, comprising 839 MW of hydropower, 940 MW of geothermal and 646 MW of thermal power. Wind power capacity is about 436 MW, solar sources account for 210 MW, and the rest is from biomass.

Justus Wabuyabo, CEO of the state-owned Nuclear Power & Energy Agency (NuPEA) said that the strategy will ensure Kenya complies with international conventions, treaties and obligations governing nuclear applications, radiation protection, transport of radioactive materials and nuclear waste. He added that the plan also contains procedures for establishing a legal framework and a human resources development plan to ensure nuclear power becomes a key component of the country's energy mix.

Already, two possible NPP sites have been identified in Kilifi and Kwale counties and technical and feasibility studies have been conducted. The government is currently training Kenyans in nuclear-related courses both locally and abroad.

The 2023-2027 plan launched by NuPEA will also see an enhanced understanding, social acceptance, and support for the nuclear power and research reactor programmes as well as increased stakeholder support and participation in energy research. The plan will lead to a developed research infrastructure, enhanced human resource capacity in the energy and petroleum sectors, and strengthened collaboration with local and international research and academic institutions.

NuPEA Board Chair Ezra Odhiambo called on all stakeholders to support the full implementation of the strategic plan. He said in developing the framework, they engaged all relevant stakeholders including the public.

Kenya became an IAEA member in 1965. It began considering nuclear power in 2010, and an IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission visited in 2015. The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) was set up in 2014 and in 2019, KNEB became the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA). In 2021 another INIR mission said Kenya has made progress in implementing the recommendations made earlier. Kenya is also in the second phase of the Milestones Approach and has established its national nuclear regulator.

Wabuyabo said Kenya has signed memoranda of undrstanding with various countries including the US, South Korea and China on implementation of its plan. “We are looking for a partner that is responsive to our needs which includes training our people in this area,” he said. The project for a 1,000 MWe plant is estimated to cost KES500bn ($3.6bn). While the cost of the project was high, he explained that operation and maintenance were low. "The economic benefits of nuclear power outweigh the cost…as we speak over 438 reactors are in operation across the world," he stated. The tendering process for the project is set for 2027.

Image: Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) CEO Justus Wabuyabo during the launch of the strategic plan at Kawi complex in Nairobi