Kenya picks possible sites for first nuclear power station

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in South Africa is presently the continent’s only nuclear site (Philipp P Egli/CC BY 3.0)

After lengthy prefeasibility studies, the Kenya’s nuclear power authority has picked two possible sites for the country’s first commercial reactors, newspaper The Star reports.

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPea) has chosen Kilifi, a coastal town about 60km north of Mombasa, and Kwale, about 20km southwest of the port. Both sites have sufficient water and space for a major development.

Eric Ohaga, director of infrastructure development at NuPea, said construction works would start in 2030 with the aim of commissioning the first reactor in 2036.

Kenya has been putting the necessary administrative systems in place to prepare the country to become a nuclear generator. In 2019, the country enacted the Nuclear Regulatory Act that set up the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority

However there is no domestic supply chain for nuclear engineering, so it will be relying on foreign companies for 95% of the work. ”That arrangement means the vendor comes with expertise. They provide everything. They come, build, operate then transfer,” Ohanga said.

Winnie Ndubai, NuPea’s director of strategy, added that the government would look to export its nuclear electricity to neighbouring countries.

At present, South Africa is the only African country to have a nuclear power plant, with Egypt likely to become the second. Uganda, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Sudan and Tunisia have begun the long process of preparing to build plants, with most aiming to have at least one reactor running in the 2030s. 

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