The Senegalese Ministry of Higher Education has entered into an agreement with the French National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology – Institut National des Sciences et Techniques Nucléaires, INSTN – to cooperate in establishing a centre of excellence in nuclear science and technology in the West African country, writes wnn. The nuclear cooperation agreement was signed by the director of INSTN Philippe Corréa for France and the minister of higher education, research and innovation Mary Teuw Niane for Senegal.

The agreement to collaborate on the nuclear science and technology project is anchored on three major objectives, reports wnn. First, it opens the peaceful atomic energy transfer door for France to support Senegal in the creation of an African Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Physics in close collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Second, it boosts Franco-Senegal’s bilateral nuclear science and technology cooperation and facilitates Senegal’s participation in the domestic development of teaching capability on a research reactor or a virtual reality teaching reactor. Third, and finally, the agreement seeks to support the development of training courses focused on nuclear health applications, particularly in the fight against cancer using external beam radiotherapy equipment.

The agreement has the potential benefit of contributing to human and institutional capacity building of the nuclear sector workforce in Senegal. To that end, the executive phase of the agreement could go down the line to create a distance learning platform for the training of Senegalese experts and students in nuclear science and technology. Through the remote education component, France could transfer knowledge and share best practices to promote national development and improve citizen wellbeing using nuclear applications in accordance with IAEA regulations.

Currently, the electricity supply in Senegal is produced from fossil fuels mainly. In early 2010, the government announced it was considering a nuclear power plant by about 2020. The decision was part of the government’s energy policy to diversify power generation sources in the country and to integrate Senegalese grid system with the West African Power Pool. In 2010, the energy minister was keen to establish an African Commission for Nuclear Energy with headquarters in Dakar, according to wnn. In the same year, France offered technical assistance in the nuclear field. A year later, the Senegalese president said that he had canceled plans for nuclear power. At the end of 2017, domestic electricity demand was only 550 MWe but is projected to grow at 7% per year.

The INSTN is a higher education institution founded in 1956 as part of the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) – le Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA). To that end, INSTN benefits from an exceptional research and development environment in the nuclear energy sector, as well as applications in the fields of health and radiation protection.