US partners with Ghana on SMRs

10 March 2022

The US Embassy in Ghana announced that the USA and Ghana have jointly launched a partnership under the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme.

“The FIRST programme, led by the US Department of State, will support Ghana’s adoption of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, including support for stakeholder engagement, advanced technical collaboration, and project evaluation and planning,” the Embassy noted. 

Japan has been a valuable partner with the United States in the programme “and will build on its existing partnership with Ghana to advance Ghana’s civil nuclear power aspirations”, it said. 

To date, the US State Department has announced $7.3 million to support FIRST projects worldwide.The initial training for Ghanaian partners will take place throughout 2022, focusing on stakeholder engagement, licensing and regulatory development, financing, workforce development, and nuclear security, safety, and non-proliferation.

“As the US government works with the Government of Ghana to lay a strong foundation for a thriving civil nuclear energy sector, US companies are eager to support that ambition every step of the way," said US Deputy Assistant Secretary Camille Richardson. "They bring decades of experience leading innovations in civil nuclear energy, pioneering the development of small modular reactors and working with partners around the world to deploy this safe, clean, and affordable energy technology.”

A virtual programme was held to commemorate the partnership and discuss next steps in US-Ghana civil nuclear cooperation.

“Clean, reliable, and safe nuclear energy can provide significant benefits to Ghana and the Ghanaian people – including clean energy, agricultural improvements, clean water, advanced medical treatments, and more. The climate crisis is serious and urgent.  Next generation nuclear energy, like what we’re working on today, must be part of the solution,” noted Ambassador Sullivan during the event.

According to Ghana's Minister of Energy, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Ghana's decision to include nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix has led the country to establish Nuclear Power Ghana Limited as an Owner Operator and the project developer.

Ghana’s Senior Advisor to the President, Yaw Osafo Marfo, noted: “We hold a strong belief that this collaboration/partnership under FIRST will complement the IAEA’s milestone approach which Ghana has adopted in developing its nuclear programme, as well as upscale the competencies of the people to be able to progress to construct, operate, and regulate the technology in a safe, secured, and safeguarded manner.”

The representative from Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Kwamena Quaysonsaid:  “Through these capacity enhancing activities, the Ministry is convinced that Ghana will not only gain key knowledge but the country will be placed in a knowledgeable position to make an informed decision(s) ahead of phase three of our nuclear power programme.”  

Ghana has a long history of interest in nuclear power. The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission was set up in 1963 to introduce nuclear science and technology into the country. Ghana currently operates a Chinese-designed Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR), which it uses as a source of neutrons for neutron activation analysis at research institutions, universities and hospitals. The Ghana Research Reactor-1, a 30kW Chinese designed, which was  commissioned in March 1995 and converted to run on low-enriched uranium fuel in 2017. 




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