WELCOME ADDRESS BY PROF. B.J.B. NYARKO, DEPUTY GNPPO CHAIRMAN AND DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE GHANA ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, ON THE OPENING CEREMONY OF GHANA’S PHASE 1 INTEGRATED NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE REVIEW (INIR) MISSION; JANUARY 16- JANUARY 23, 2017.

Mr. Chairman

Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, CEO of NDPC

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency

GNPPO Board members

Chief Executive Officers and Institutional Reps.

Directors of Various Institutes

Representatives from the various stakeholder Organisations

Friends from the media

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is a great honor and privilege for me to welcome you to the opening ceremony of Ghana’s phase 1 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission. Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of Ghana and the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation, to extend my warm welcome to the team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and all participants.

The goal of this IAEA coordinated International peer review is to conduct a holistic evaluation of Ghana’s nuclear infrastructure on the basis of 19 Infrastructure issues of NPP development and subsequently provide suggestion and recommendations to fill gaps that may exist.

It is worth noting that Ghana satisfied a preceding requirement of conducting and submitting a self-evaluation report (SER) to the IAEA.

Mr. Chairman, we satisfied this requirement with serious focus on the quality of the Self Evaluation Report and the active involvement of all relevant stakeholder organisations. It is gratifying to note that as a country, we were far advanced with the assessment of our 19 infrastructure issues when we made an official request to the IAEA on 3rd December 2015  to carry out the Phase 1 integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR).

I am very happy to inform you that Ghana had a preliminary INIR mission from August 8 to August 10, 2016 and we are hopeful that the general conclusions and recommendations from the IAEA experts would make this main mission a better one.

The IAEA team of experts will give a briefing on the mission implementation and agenda at the opening session and there would be discussions and interviews between and among IAEA experts and GNPPO stakeholder representatives for each of the nineteen (19) infrastructure issues.

Mr. Chairman, may I assure participants that there would be long sessions that will require total commitment and attention and these will culminate in the exit meeting where results and recommendations would be discussed.

Mr. Chairman, it is a well-known fact that a large number of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, and for those that have access, reliability, sustainability and cost issues have become very compelling. Indeed, almost every problem facing a developing nation is also an energy access problem: agriculture, health, education, lack of productive industries for economic growth among others.

Ghana’s growing energy demand, worsened by rapid population growth, industrialization and major infrastructural development, requires a comprehensive assessment of our energy infrastructure, available energy sources and how they could be exploited in the short, medium and long-term.

Our quest to find a lasting solution to our energy problems has brought into perspective nuclear energy and our first President’s vision on energy. Our focus on the United Nation’s sustainable development goal seven (7) which emphasises access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and indeed the effect sustainable energy would have on the other goals cannot be gainsaid.

The revitalization of our first President’s vision of exploiting nuclear energy for electricity generation started with the setting up of a Presidential Committee in 2007 known as the Adjei Bekoe Committee, which was tasked to advice government on the potential use of nuclear energy for electricity generation in Ghana.

Mr. Chairman, the compelling and instructive conclusions of the Committee’s report, which led to Cabinet’s decision in 2008 to include nuclear energy into Ghana’s energy mix, are:

  1. A decision by the country to explore nuclear energy for electricity generation would be natural progression in the country’s technological advancement;
  2. The introduction of nuclear power in Ghana’s fuel supply mix will improve our energy security and would be vital in sustaining the energy requirements of a middle income economy.

The Committee also recommended the setting up of a Presidential Commission on Nuclear Power Development (PCNPD) to prepare a draft Nuclear Power Policy and terms of reference for the additional technical and financial feasibility studies; the establishment of a legal framework and regulatory body; accedence to international agreements relating to non-proliferation, physical protection, nuclear safety and security as well as civil liability regime.

Mr. Chairman, it is gratifying to note that the government of Ghana subsequently set up Ghana’s NEPIO, Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation. The government passed a comprehensive nuclear law, NRA Act, 2015 (Act 895) which preceded the establishment of an independent regulatory authority. Ghana, with the help of GNPPO’s legal stakeholder institutions and with the support of the IAEA, has acceded to a lot of international conventions and instruments in connection with non-proliferation, physical protection, nuclear safety, and security.

We know as a nation we can, and must pursue all the possible energy sources that are affordable, sustainable and reliable, while paying attention to carbon emissions and climate change concerns.

We are aware of the tremendous effort required, and the large investment costs and human capacity building but we are encouraged by the vision of our first President, the commitment of our governments and the enthusiasm and industry of our NEPIO, the jobs we will create, the foreign investment we will send to rural areas and the contribution we will make to reducing climate change. I dare say we simply cannot disappoint with the second opportunity to add Nuclear energy to our energy mix, after the efforts of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah our first President.

It is important to state our commitment to safety, security and safeguards requirements and for which reason the IAEA’S methodology of covering 19 key infrastructure issues, in 3 phases and with 3 milestones, is critical to us.

Mr. Chairman let me refer to a quote from Jessie Owens: “We all have dreams but in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” It is the industry and tiring efforts of the GNPPO and NPI that has brought as this far. We acknowledge every member of the GNPPO for their individual and collective efforts that have made this dream a reality. Vince Lombardi, a former American footballer said “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”. This quote has indeed found a practical meaning.

Mr. Chairman, when people have worked so hard, it is difficult to find words to encourage them to do more but I have found one; perseverance!!!             That is what will take us to the finishing line and what posterity will cherish.

Before I conclude, may I express our appreciation to the IAEA and their experts for their support and to encourage Ghana’s NEPIO to continue with the good work.  Much appreciations to our sponsors: the Volta River Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Tropical Cable and Conductor Ltd, Asanko Gold Gh. Ltd Project, Berock Ventures Ltd, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Engineering Services Providers Co. Ltd and Cornerstone Capital Advisors Ltd.

Finally, on behalf of Ghana and the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organization, I welcome you all to Ghana’s first Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission. I wish you all fruitful discussions and look forward to having outcomes that will help propel us into the next phase of the programme.

Thank you for your attention.