By Henry Akubuiro
Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, Abubakar Malah Umar, Ikeja, Lagos, 2021,pp. 126
The United States of America, China, France, Russia and South Korea are on top of countries maximising the use of nuclear energy in the world. Out of the top 15 nuclear power generators in the globe, two are from North America (the US and Canada), five are from Asia, while seven are from Europe. None, sadly, is from Africa.
What that means is that Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation and largest economy, hasn’t fulfilled its nuclear potential as expected. In his book, Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, Abubakar Malah Umar, a PhD holder in Nuclear and Radiation Physics, with a career spanning thirty years across academia and field energy, has dissected the enormity of Nigeria’s nuclear energy demands, spelling out a pathfinding trajectory.
Writing in the foreword, Professor Abubakar Sani Sambo, former Special Adviser to the President on Energy and former Vice Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, declares that strong and responsive energy policy is the singular most important panacea for successful implementation of any national energy agenda, while Professor Shamsideen Elegba, pioneer Director General/CEO, Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), commends the author for making a timely, “interesting debut to the national discourse on the development and utilisation of nuclear energy in particular and energy security in general”, bearing in mind that consideration for the generation of nuclear electricity in the country started more than forty years ago.
In the introductory chapter, the author enlightens us on the primary energy sources vis: coal, biomass, solar, wind, energy, oil, water, nuclear, and natural gas. Nigeria, we learn, is blessed with all of this. But despite this endowment, Nigeria hasn’t been able to generate more than 3 GW power of national grid standard electricity from a total installed capacity of 12.5 for many years. The author laments, hence: “The electricity sector landscape has been characterised by deficiencies and inefficiencies throughout the entire value chain: Generation, Transmission and Distribution” (p. 10).
Defining Nigeria’s policy framework regarding the sector, Umar states: “The overarching thrust of Nigeria’s National Energy Policy (NEC) is the optimal utilisation of the nation’s energy resources for sustainable development.” Given the size of Nigeria’s economy and status as a developing economy, he contends that existing conventional energy infrastructure cannot meet the national demand; “it will need to be complemented by any other new systems that may become available to the country for some time to come along this trajectory” (p. 15).
If Umar set out in this policy book to bring a fresh perspective to the conversation and make valuable input to strengthen the development process of nuclear energy in Nigeria, the reader will appreciate the enormous work done from the second and seventh chapters. These chapters discuss issues such as an overview of nuclear energy strategies and plans, nuclear energy resources and infrastructural frameworks, nuclear energy and nuclear energy technology assessment.
The book also discusses geopolitics of nuclear energy matters, insights and challenges to nuclear energy matters and vision for nuclear energy in Nigeria.
Though it isn’t common knowledge to a layman, Nigeria is blessed with uranium. The author writes: “The country has been involved in the extensive exploration of natural solid raw materials, including uranium since pre-colonial periods leading up to the amalgamation in 1914. Post-independence exploratory activities intensified, especially for uranium in the 1970s, though it has neither been exploited nor any deposit quantified…” (p. 26). He, however, clarifies that the cardinal policy of Nigeria’s nuclear programme is solely for peace.
The author subsequently educates the reader on what he needs to know about nuclear technology for energy generation with illustrations. The peculiarities of nuclear energy in Nigeria is also elaborated, just as the establishment of agencies and institutions for the implementation of framework for the country’s nuclear energy.
In Nuclear Energy in Nigeria: A Policy Book, the author makes us aware of Nigeria’s existing agreement with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), which is based on a four-phased project execution programme of 4.8 GW to be delivered to the national grid. Meanwhile, new players, we are told, are surfacing with different types of reactor designs, taking advantage of “conducive investment climate in the sector”.
One of the most illuminating contents of this book is the author’s unfurling of his vision for nuclear energy in Nigeria, treated in the concluding chapter, and predicated on the fact that a successful policy must not only focus on the issues as they present today but also provide clear vision for tomorrow. “The way forward could be characterised by a number of strategic policy reviews and plans of action,” he hints (p. 107). These detailed strategic actions can be gleaned in the book. Won’t you find out for yourself?