Nigeria to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes
By Alli Hakeem Aug 2, 2006, 12:26 GMT
Abuja - Despite soaring oil prices in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer and the ninth-ranked producer in the world rankings, the government in Abuja has staked out a new policy to diversify the country's own energy sources including domestic nuclear power.
Nigeria hopes to exploit nuclear energy for power generation and other peaceful purposes, President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared.
'I wish to affirm that Nigeria's aspirations for the acquisition of nuclear technology are for purely peaceful applications. We are unequivocally committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,' he said as he inaugurated a board for the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission in Abuja.
He said the global picture on the utilization of nuclear energy for the generation of electricity was becoming brighter by the day, and held promise for the developing world, particularly Nigeria.
'This technology will enable us to diversify our electricity generation base beyond oil and gas and hydro to include nuclear and coal,' he said.
Obasanjo said that the acquisition of nuclear technology was a sensitive and delicate issue requiring the cooperation and support of the international community.
He maintained that Nigeria was a credible and reliable player within the international community and enjoyed the confidence of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog agency of the United Nations.
'It is important to emphasize that while adhering to the spirit and letter of the Pelindaba Treaty, which declares the continent of Africa as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, we shall position our country to derive maximum benefits from the proper application of nuclear technology for peaceful proposes,' he said.
Obasanjo said that the international benchmark of 10 to 12 years for the attainment of proficiency in the development and deployment of nuclear powerplants for electricity generation - from project conception and planning to the actual commissioning of a nuclear power plant project - would be adhered to by Nigeria.
Thirty years ago, in August, 1976, Obasanjo, as military ruler, initiated the use of atomic energy by Nigeria for peaceful purposes, but the idea did not germinate until he returned to power as elected president.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur