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Opinions Sat, 6 Jul 2013

Must Ghana go nuclear?

‘The Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks’. (http://momentscount.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/fukushima-nuclear-power-plant.jpg

Compatriots,

It will seem our government has completed ‘intense’ negotiations with the State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia (ROSATOM) to implement the development of nuclear energy in Ghana:

‘Ghana’s consideration of Nuclear energy as a viable option received a major impetus last week following intense discussions between the State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia – ROSATOM- and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, on the specifics of joint projects facilitating the implementation of plans by Ghana to develop a nuclear industry.’ (Ghana’s nuclear plans taking shape - Energy Minister, Business News, 2 July 2013,Source: Communications Unit, MoEP, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=278461). • • • I am dead against Ghana's wish to go nuclear. Why?:

1) The nuclear accidents all over the world: 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine; 3 Mile Island (USA); Fukushima No1, Tsuruga, Mihama (Japan); Kalpakkam, Tarapur, Maharashtra, Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh (India); Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux, Saclay, Bugey (France); CRL, WR-1 reactor at Pinawa, Manitoba, Ontario (Canada); Hesse, Hamm-Uentrop, (Germany); Windscale, Sellafield (UK); Idaho Falls, Idaho, Simi Valley, California, Palisades, Brownsville (US) and other places in the world, warns us that we can be devastated if any such accident befalls us. Just a single nuclear incident as above in Ghana can irreversibly devastate the health of our people, our national finances and environment (List of nuclear power accidents by country, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_power_accidents_by_country).

2) There are cheaper, less dangerous, environmentally friendly alternatives to Nuclear energy - wind, hydro, solar, bio-gas, bio-fuel, and even feces energy!

3) The current piecemeal incursion into nuclear energy - by our hitherto administratively incompetent NDC-NPP Mafia - is ominous of more leadership court jesting! Imagine what will happen if we experience a disaster? Will the trademark NDC-NPP blame-game, partisan, noisy squabbling be replayed while our people die in their thousands?

A lot of Ghanaians could be excused for thinking that NDC, which with the NPP has monopolized leadership in Ghana since December 31st 1981, has now mercifully reinvented itself to provide real leadership in finitely solving our energy problem Ghana. Not so, because the rekindled idea to go nuclear as Dr. Nkrumah envisaged in 1964 may not be of our government’s making. The Russians have coincidentally offered the same nuclear carrot to the Nigerians!

‘The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria reported on Monday, 01 August 2011 that Russia is bidding to build Nigeria’s first nuclear plant. It is the most unfortunate thing that will happen to this country. Yes it works in the developed countries, but they have actually been challenged by the difficulties to manage their various nuclear plants and at a great cost too. We don’t have the technological advancement to handle it. We can’t even maintain our roads, railways, no national carrier, etc. Look at the white elephant project at Ajaokuta and the mismanaged Delta Steel project which was almost taken over by the son of one of Nigeria’s former rulers.’ (Russia Woos Nigeria For The First Nuclear Plant - Business - Nairaland http://www.nairaland.com/726719/russia-woos-nigeria-first-nuclear).

The idea by Dr. Nkrumah in 1964 that we go nuclear, was as a commendable part of his vision and implementation of a comprehensive 7 Year Development Programme. Ghana had not had the benefit of hindsight of the many nuclear accidents I point out above. Therefore, technologically it is a precarious territory to play about in. We must be selective in the kind of technology we embrace!

So what is my suggestion? Ghana is better of launching a sustained, comprehensive, science and technology-led Development and Modernisation Programm (DMP). Under this, a comprehensive energy policy must be implemented. A DMP will elevate all sectors of national development scientifically and technologically. It will empower our people to work to achieve the DMP objectives. We will have universal infrastructure; export oriented manufacturing factories; there will be FULL EMPLOYMEN; and we will all benefit from the provision of affordable: health, education, transport, housing and public amenities. Our national motto will be WORK AND HAPPINESS!

What do you think?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BIO-DATA Kofi of Africa resides in Leeds, UK. He is currently a Director of, Resources for Education for African Development (READ), a UK-Ghana educational charity that offers accessible community education from primary to university level. He is a writer/educator who blogs avidly on Facebook and Blogspot. Mission statement: to examine and offer reasonable solutions to help address the poverty, ignorance and powerlessness of the Ghanaian/African poor.

He lectured, Media & Cultural Studies and Sociology (the University of Leeds, and Leeds Metropolitan University - 1992-07). He also worked variously as: Assistant Editor, Third World Book Review; freelance journalist (West Africa, Africa, Afrique Asie, etc), as Media Researcher (Campaign for Press Freedom); a Printer and Graphic Designer.

He was the 1985 Mohammed Maiga laureate in journalism for Africa (“Ghana’s Daughters in Lagos”, Feb.1985, Afrique Asie). He received the prize from the late, President Thomas Sankara in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Blog: brakofi.blogspot.com

Mb phone: 0044 7943 969651

Email: kofi.of.africa@gmail.com

Columnist: Kofi of Africa