Russia and Uganda have signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The agreement, inked on 17 September, on the sidelines of the 63rd IAEA General conference in Vienna, paves the way for joint work in areas such as: the establishment of nuclear infrastructure; the production of radioisotopes for industrial, healthcare, agricultural use; and education and retraining. Working groups will be set up for specific applications including construction of a Centre for nuclear science and technology in Uganda.

In May 2018 Uganda had signed a preliminary agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to help develop a nuclear energy programme. However, discussions with China slowed. Moscow had signed an initial nuclear agreement with Uganda in 2017 before China’s memorandum of understanding was signed in 2018.

Uganda has substantial uranium deposits but reserve estimates have not been made because no commercial exploration has taken place. Uganda’s second National Development Plan and Vision 2040 includes plans to use uranium for nuclear power stations by 2050.

Rosatom is showing increasing interest in Africa. The state-owned Russian company is currently in discussion with Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia to develop nuclear energy programmes. Rosatom said specialists would visit Uganda in the “near future”.

A cooperation agreement was also signed during the IAEA General Conference between Russia’s Federal Service for Ecological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) and the Zambian Radiation Protection Service for cooperation in the field of regulation of nuclear and radiation safety in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Co-operation will include development of a regulatory framework; licensing of activities; control and supervision activities, including the preparation and implementation of inspection programmes; training of radiation protection staff in Zambia; and a number of other areas.