Rwanda accelerates nuclear energy efforts

Rwanda accelerates nuclear energy efforts

As Rwanda advances plans to establish a centre for nuclear science and technology, it has now started working on its nuclear stronghold by joining the international treaty that provides assistance in case of nuclear and radiological accidents.

Recently the cabinet approved the draft law approving the accession of Rwanda to the convention on assistance in the case of nuclear accident or radiological emergency.

The convention is a multilateral treaty of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of which Rwanda is a member state.

Bound by the 1986 treaty which followed the worst nuclear disaster in history, parties agree to provide assistance to one another in the case of a nuclear accident.

To date, 122 states have ratified or acceded to the convention.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, such an accident can cause damage that one country cannot handle alone or even may have cross border impacts, underscoring that assistance is key to mitigate the effects on persons and the environment.

After the bill approving the convention is passed by the Parliament, “Rwanda will be able to request for assistance from any other state party directly or through IAEA in case a nuclear emergency event occurs and it may also be able to provide the same assistance if requested,” Minister Claver Gatete told The New Times.

“Rwanda may also request assistance “relating to medical treatment or temporary relocation of people involved in a nuclear accident or radiological emergency into the territory of another state party,” he added.

The use of nuclear technology is emerging from all parts of the globe. In June, the Rwandan parliament approved the agreement between the government and a Russian state corporation known as Rosatomto set up the nuclear centre by 2024.

The centre would enable Rwanda to develop nuclear solutions that would advance several sectors of the country’s economy especially agriculture, health education, sciences and industry.

The technology will be applied to nuclear medicine, reactor laboratory research and multipurpose radiation including radiobiology and material science.

While the convention covers various aspects of the provision of assistance, it also tasks member states with endeavouring to avoid any such incidents.

States have to notify the IAEA of their experts, equipment, and materials for providing assistance.

Minister Gatete noted that also the agency may be requested to assist in developing appropriate training programmes for personnel to deal with nuclear accidents and radiological emergencies and in radiation monitoring programmes, procedures and standards.

In June, Gatete revealed to the parliament that until 2017, Rwanda had only one nuclear expert, highlighting the need for more skill force in the industry.

At the time, he pointed out that 50 Rwandans are pursuing studies in nuclear science and technology in Russia.