An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission team says Niger has a ‘strong commitment’ to developing infrastructure for nuclear power programmes, following a review of the country’s nuclear infrastructure status.
The mission was first conducted in April with its final report submitted to the Nigerian government on 16 July. It is one of the IAEA’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions, which allow IAEA member states to assess national infrastructure needed for the introduction of nuclear power.
Mission teams are made up of international experts from France, Morocco, Spain and the UK, as well as members of IAEA staff. Prior to the mission in Niger, the country conducted a self-evaluation covering all existing infrastructure issues and submitted it to the IAEA.
Led by IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy Mikhail Chudakov, the mission team gave its concluding report to Nigerian Energy Minister Amina Moumouni in Niamey on 16 July.
Chudakov said that is he is ‘encouraged that even though Niger is still in an early phase, it has already enacted a comprehensive nuclear law, established an independent nuclear regulatory authority, and is currently reviewing existing regulations and developing appropriate new ones’.
The team included seven recommendations and 17 suggestions in the report that aim to help Niger to continue progressing its infrastructure development. These include implementing a legal and regulatory safety framework, developing an integrated view of net nuclear power plant project costs, and strengthening activity management for prospective nuclear power projects.
Niger’s economic development is largely hindered by the inconsistency of its electricity supply and alternative power sources are being increasingly considered to try and remedy instances of short supply for its some 21 million inhabitants. Modifying its energy mix to include more nuclear power is being seriously considered as an option. Currently, the country is the fourth largest producer of uranium ore in the world.
The INIR mission report is expected to be published on the IAEA website 90 days following its delivery to the member state unless Niger has requested it does not do so.
INIR missions are based on the agency’s Milestones Approach, which includes 19 Infrastructure Issues, three Phases, and three Milestones. The scheme divides the process of establishing a nuclear power programme into three progressive development phases, with the duration of each reliant on the country in question’s level of commitment and the resources available.