IAEA Approves Nuclear, Cancer Treatment Reactor Projects for Nigeria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Nigeria the go ahead to embark on five critical projects in nuclear power energy, cancer management, livestock production, governmental and regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety and radiation oncology.

The projects due to commence in 2020, were approved under the Country Programme Framework document.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, made the announcement yesterday at the ministerial conference on nuclear science and technology in Vienna, Austria.

Onu, who led the Nigeria delegation, said the designs of these projects had been completed and submitted to the IAEA for review. Those on the delegation included, Permanent Secretary Political & Economic Affairs Office.

OSGF ,Gabriel Aduda, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Austria and Slovakia, Vivian Okeke, Chairman Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Professor S.P Mallam and Director Renewable Energy, Ministry of Science and Technology, Abbas Gunmi.

Last month, both Nigeria and IAEA signed the Country Programme Framework document for 2018-2023 cycle at the 62nd Session of the IAEA General Conference also in Vienna.

Onu said the document identified the priority areas of Nigeria’s partnership with the agency in a clear and practical fashion. The signing of the document is a precursor to the commencement of additional national projects under the 2020-2021 Technical Cooperation Cycle and beyond.

The minister disclosed that Nigeria’s arrangements towards the acquisition of a multi-purpose research reactor had reached an advanced stage, expressing hope that the acquisition will contribute to several developmental activities in the country in the provision of radiopharmaceuticals to support cancer diagnosis and treatment and research and training.

“Nigeria believes that steady electricity is a key element in the development of any nation. On this premise, Nigeria’s quest for the generation of electricity from nuclear resources cannot come at a better time especially with the dwindling of other energy resources and global efforts at mitigating climate change through the use of environmentally friendly technologies including nuclear. Meticulous planning and discussions are already ongoing towards Nigeria’s acquisition of her first nuclear power plant,” Onu said.

He expressed optimism that Nigeria’s Research Reactor, which was commissioned in 2004 with enriched uranium, will reach full power this week.

He said the reactor had proved very useful in mineral exploration and processing and the agricultural sector in soil fertility analysis, was recently successfully converted from the use of HEU to LEU attaining criticality early this month.

He also expressed Nigeria appreciation to IAEA in the provision of facilities and training of the needed manpower for the diagnosis and management of cancer in country.

He said the IAEA led training programmes had produced many qualified Nuclear Medicine Physicians, Radiation Oncologists, Radiographers, Medical Physicists and numerous other relevant professionals that are spread across the tertiary health institutions in the country.

Source: thisdaylive.com

School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences Celebrate UG @ 70

The School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS) and the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) held an opening ceremony on October 22, 2018 at the Great Hall to begin a week-long celebration marking the University’s 70th Anniversary.

The ceremony was well attended by industry players, faculty, staff and students of both Schools. Also present was Prof. Onwona-Agyeman, Dean of School of Engineering Sciences, and Prof. George Oduro Nkansah, Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology. The special guests included Prof. B. J. B. Nyarko, Director General of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Hon. Dr. Kwame Ampofo, Former Board Chair of the Energy Commission, Mr. Charles Amoako, Deputy Director General (Operations), Ghana Standards Authority, Dr. Paul Osei Ofosu, Ghana Standards Authority, Madam Lucy Dzandu, Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (INSTI), and Mr. Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo, Ministry of Energy.

In his welcome address, the Acting Dean of SPMS, Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, said the theme for the celebration, “UG @ 70: Celebrating Excellence, Shaping Futures” emphasized the role of the University in the development of the country. He pointed out some of the University’s achievements such as being the best in West Africa, and winning several grants for cutting-edge research. He asked for increased support for the University, to develop the critical human resource needed for the country’s scientific and technological advancement.

The opening ceremony which was chaired by Prof. B. J. B. Nyarko, Director General of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) had two presentations. Dr. Stephen Yamoah of SNAS spoke on, “Nuclear Power in Ghana’s Energy Mix” while Dr. Ezekiel Nortey of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science gave a presentation on “Ghana Beyond Aid, the Role of Quality Data”.

In his closing remarks, the Chairman noted that the two topics treated were closely linked since data management was crucial in the field of nuclear energy. There were goodwill messages from the special guests who congratulated both Schools for their contributions over the years. They wished the University more years of innovation and excellence.

Source: ug.edu.gh

Ghana commemorates International Day of Medical Physics

The Ghana Society for Medical Physics has commemorated the 2018 International Day of Medical Physics, with a seminar in Accra on the theme: “Medical Physics for Patient Benefit”.

The annual event is celebrated on November 7, on the birthday of Marie Curie, a popular female scientist who pioneered research in radiation.

It seeks to raise public awareness about the critical role that medical physicists play within the healthcare delivery system.

Mr George Felix Acquah, the Head of Medical Physics, at the Sweden Ghana Medical Centre, (SGMC), a cancer treatment facility, who delivered the keynote address, explained that the unique profession dealt with the application of physics principles for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

He said since the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancers usually involved the use of radiation-emitting equipment, medical physicists were employed in the clinical fields of radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, with the primary responsibility of ensuring safety in the use of radiation for healthcare in hospitals.

They are responsible for the accurate calibration, management and operation of those equipment to help achieve a particular diagnostic or treatment goal in radiation medicine.

Mr Acquah said the theme was sensitive and dear to the hearts of medical physicists, considering their indispensable role as key partners of the healthcare team.

He, therefore, encouraged radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine centres in Ghana to employ at least one Medical Physicist who would ensure that patients were diagnosed and treated with radiation in a safe manner.

Mr Acquah indicated that cancer prevalence has steadily increased worldwide, with less developed countries being the most affected, and called on the Government to step up efforts at establishing more well- equipped centres for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

Mr Eric Addison, the President of the Ghana Society for Medical Physics, said in spite of the critical role that medical physicists played within the healthcare system, they had been relatively less visible to members of the public, compared to other health professionals.

He encouraged them to be active and engage in activities that would make them more visible in the healthcare system of the country.

He called on the Government to take urgent steps to properly place medical physicists in the health structure of Ghana and upgrade their salaries to make the profession more attractive to young scientists.

Mr Addison said the Ghana Society for Medical Physics has 84 members and six regional organisations.

The minimum requirement to qualify as a Medical Physicist is a Master of Science Degree in Medical Physics and a two-year clinical internship, he said, and encouraged more scientists to opt for such courses, to boost the human resource base.

Dr. Francis Hasford, the Head of the Medical Physics Department at the University of Ghana, School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS), and also the Secretary General of the Federation of African Medical Physics Organizations (FAMPO), said professional education was paramount in the healthcare delivery system.

He said Ghana had been voted as the headquarters of the FAMPO, placing in her hands a more trusted role to lead Africa in the progress of Medical Physics for effective healthcare delivery.

Dr Elvis Tiburu, the Head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Ghana, speaking on the critical role that medical instrumentation played in patient care and management, said he was worried about the current state of the equipment in the nation’s health facilities, most of which had broken down with little or no hope of securing their spare parts for repairs.

He encouraged the Government and other stakeholder agencies to support biomedical engineers and equip them to use locally available materials to fabricate some of the hospital equipment that were otherwise expensive to purchase from overseas.

He suggested a multi-disciplinary research study and engagement of experts in the procurement of medical equipment into the country’s hospitals.

Professor John H. Amuasi, who chaired the occasion, encouraged participants from the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the Korle-Bu and Okomfo Anokye Teaching hospitals to take advantage of the platform to raise the needed awareness about Medical Physics in their communities.

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Akufo-Addo must actualise Ghana’s nuclear dream

After decades of stop-start journeys to nuclear, Egypt last month announced that it had sealed a $700 million deal with USA-based General Electric (GE) to supply turbine and generator units for the country’s maiden Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

Like Ghana, that country’s civilian nuclear programme suffered a tortuous journey until around 2012 when it was meaningfully revived and now being guided towards fruition.

By that, Egypt has successfully shaken off the monstrous lack of political will around nuclear programmes in Africa and is now on its way to generating 1,200 megawatts of electricity from the resource in 2026. It aims to quadruple the figure to 4,800MW by 2029.

The country’s momentous revitalisation of its once shelved nuclear programme was occasioned by familiar factors: Similar to Ghana, Egypt is experiencing consistent strong growth in population in the midst of an expanding economy.

To sustain the economic growth and feed the nation, the country requires sustainable and affordable energy. That is where nuclear energy (with its enchanting benefits listed below) came in handy.

The USA-based GE said in a statement that Egypt’s maiden nuclear plant, the El Dabaa will provide electricity for four million people, equivalent to the population of Accra.

Elsewhere, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda are also aiming to tap the potential of nuclear to supplement traditional power sources and fast track their industrialisation drives. Africa is thus shaking off the long-held negative perceptions around nuclear and warming up to it.

Here in Ghana the journey to nuclear is still at a snail pace. Over the past five decades, the country has taken one step forward and two steps backward in the match towards adding nuclear power to its energy mix.

After the nuclear dream was rejuvenated in 2006, thanks to the debilitating energy crisis at the time, it was again abandoned until 2013 when, another round of energy crisis pricked our conscience to start thinking nuclear.

Since then, however, the momentum has been sustained, with intergovernmental agreements now signed with China and Russia.

This is positive. However, the pace still does not excite.

Despite rekindling our nuclear programme the same year that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) revived its, Abu Dhabi is currently constructing four plants at a time Ghana does not know where its maiden plant will be sited. We have not also chosen a vendor country – the country that will partner us to establish and maintain the plant – nor decided on the financial model to be used. The owner operator – the state-owned enterprise to own and operate the NPP – is also still not established.

Given that these are critical stages of a nuclear programme, their absence at the moment leaves much to be desired. It begs the question if there is urgency and commitment around our nuclear programme.

Benefits of nuclear

This is in spite of frightening signs that traditional energy sources are plateauing in the midst of rising demand. Data from the Ministry of Energy show that national supply of electricity has shifted significantly from hydro to thermal energy, fueled by natural gas, diesel and crude oil.

The ministry estimates that internal fuel sources will decline by 2027, making it difficult for the country to fuel its thermal plants.

With climate change drying up rivers and also making coal a bad option, one wonders how Ghana intends to sustain supply to help feed industries and light up new homes.
The inconsistent nature of renewable energy sources (wind and solar) also means that they cannot be relied upon for baseloads – 24-hour supply.

This makes nuclear a preferred option. Its cost efficient and affordable nature makes it more endearing to use.

Despite the capital-intensive nature at the initial stages (one plant cost between $5 billion to $8 billion from start to finish), experts concur that nuclear energy cost less in the long run compared to other sources.

The World Nuclear Association estimates that unlike thermal energy sources that cost around 12 US cents per kilowatt (KW), nuclear power cost six cents per KW. This makes it a smarter option for a developing country like Ghana in need of affordable but reliable electricity to drive growth and lift millions out of poverty.

Ghana’s case is even peculiar: With power shortages still lurking at a time President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has audaciously pledged to establish a factory each in the 216 districts (using the old figure) and build a Ghana beyond aid, the country needs to be foresighted to help forestall a repeat of the energy crisis the country has experienced at different times since independence.

Hasten with caution
Fortunately, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have now reached a consensus on the need to go nuclear after years of indifference.

This places President Akufo-Addo in a unique position to take Ghana there. To do so, however, he must quicken the process by setting clear timelines for implementing agencies.
Despite its positives, nuclear plants take time to construct. One plant could take up to six years to complete and with the peculiar nature of state-sponsored projects in Ghana, a period of 10 years can be envisaged.

As traditional energy sources dwindle from 2027 onwards, credible alternatives will be needed; else the country is forced to rely on emergency alternatives, which are often expensive. The prices of the emergency power agreements signed between 2014 and 2016 in response to the crisis, vis-à-vis those signed during periods of power stability speak volumes.

Financing models
Aside electricity, NPPs open an industry in science and technology, especially in the area of health. They are also avenues for job creation.

Yet, critics of nuclear often point to its capital-intensive nature as the reason why developing countries must shy away from it. Fortunately, this is flawed.
Like every commercial project, nuclear plants are investments that when properly structured, will attract investors.

Just like the Akosombo Dam, the government could devise a financing model that will allow the vendor country to build, operate and transfer. After the loan has been repaid and the facility transferred to Ghana, the plant becomes ours forever, similar to the Akosombo and Bui Dams.

Public opinion
While I urge the President to fast-track the nuclear dream, it is instructive to mention that the peculiar nature of the resource means that any financial malpractice around it will neutralise the gains and easily whip-up public anger against it.

Recent happenings in South Africa and the emotions that allegations of corruption around new nuclear deals arose attest to this.

That not withstanding, President Akufo-Addo holds a golden opportunity to sign Ghana off to nuclear. That will be an enduring legacy he will cherish forever. It will open a new chapter in Ghana’s desire to industrialise. It will also represent a stronger commitment to actualising his ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda.

Beyond being a cheaper and affordable source, excess power from nuclear can be fed into the West Africa Power Pool for export. That means extra income from a resource we used more than 60 years dreaming about.


Maiden LOC Dish Conversion Worksop Meeting Held in Accra

The first meeting of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the workshop on conversion of ex-telecommunication earth station antennas into functional radio telescopes was held in Accra.

The Workshop will be hosted by GSSTI in collaboration with the Development through Radio Astronomy Global Network with support from the Global Challenges Research Fund, United Kingdom. It is scheduled to take place at the AH Hotel, East Legon, Accra-Ghana, during 20th– 26thJanuary 2019.

The focus of the workshop will be to share engineering expertise in antenna conversions, telescope controls and receiver systems with emphasis on how the skills involved can be transferred to the local population for socio-economic benefits. A team of experts that led the conversions of ex-telecommunication antennas in Ghana, Latvia, Australia, Japan and Peru, will be the main speakers at the Workshop.

Mr. Eric Aggrey, a member of the LOC disclosed that Ghana is the second country in Africa to convert such a disused telecommunication dish into a radio telescope for scientific (astronomical) research, training, education and astro-tourism purposes.

Speaking at the meeting, the chairman of the LOC, Dr. Bernard Duah Asabere, said this workshop will place Ghana amongst the elite in the world of astronomy and related technology transfers for socio-economic gains.

He encouraged members of the team to work hard and in unity to make the program a success to lift the flags of GSSTI, GAEC and Ghana higher.