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Uganda To Build Nuclear Power Plants As It Strives To Maximize Benefits From Its Natural Assets

Africa | Commentaries | Energy & Environment | Uganda March 10, 2023

Uganda will generate electricity from nuclear energy by 2031, announced the government there on March 8, 2023, and reported by some East African media on March 10, 2023.

Photo: View of Downtown Kampala, Uganda

According to the reports, Uganda will construct its first nuclear power plant called Buyende Nuclear Power Plant in Buyende. The nuclear power plant that will be constructed in phases will start generating 1000 MW of electricity by 2031 before reaching its full capacity of 2000 MW when fully completed.

The announcement by the Government of Uganda is said to follow a deal the government signed with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) that is aimed at enhancing the East African Community (EAC) state’s capacity for atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

Uganda has significant deposits of uranium. The government’s landmark move to go nuclear will allow it to exploit its strategic natural asset for production of vital capital good as the country strives to maximize benefits from extraction of its vast natural assets. Also, the move may be seen a diversification of the country’s energy sources for various reasons including increasing sustainability.

Many African nations often complain of shortages of capital goods including electricity while they have vast deposits of natural assets required for generation of the goods. Even when, the assets are extracted often by foreign companies, the extracts are exported untreated with governments accepting meagre revenues sometimes less than 20% of accruing total revenues. That is despite governments owning the extracted natural assets and that the foreign companies’ contribution is only extraction capital and technology. Ownership of natural assets is crucial. As such, owners of natural assets should demand at least 50% of revenues accruing from extracted assets by foreign firms. Otherwise, do not extract the assets yet, because doing so is almost giving them away!

A good example that should be emulated by African nations in this matter is Saudi Arabia. The country was initially taking 50% of total revenues accruing from crude oil and natural gas extracted and processed by foreign firms. Later as the country became wealthier, it bought out the foreign firms and began extracting and processing crude oil and natural gas itself through its own company called Saudi ARAMCO alias ARAMCO. With its own extraction and processing firm, Saudi Arabia can now buy its own extraction and processing equipment from various parts of the world and employ experts from anywhere on its own terms without giving away massive revenues from its crude oil and natural gas.

Uganda joins Egypt as African countries currently embarked on or seriously planning construction of nuclear power plants for generating electricity. Construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant began in 2022, by Russia’s Rosatom.

South Africa is the only African country with an operational nuclear power plant.

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