The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Ghana the green light to produce power from nuclear energy.

This comes almost five decades after the country opened negotiations with the international body on the matter.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MoEP), Professor Thomas Akabsaa, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra that the agency, which is a global intergovernmental body promoting peaceful use of nuclear energy, approved the request earlier this year.

“We also got their permission to establish a Nuclear Energy Planning and Implementation Organisation (NEPIO) and we have gotten that done. The organisation is at the GAEC and the ministry is coordinating its activities,” Prof. Akabsaa said on November 26.

The Nuclear Regulatory Power Bill, which will give legal backing to the implementation of the national nuclear energy plan, has also been approved by Cabinet and is now with Parliament for final approval, the Chief Director added.

He explained that in the first phase of the programme, the ministry would aim at producing 700 megawatts (MW) of electricity from nuclear energy before increasing it to 1,000MW in subsequent years.

The 700MW will complement the country’s two main energy sources – hydro and thermal – which together give the nation an installed capacity of 1,960MW.

Although interest in nuclear power is picking up, the chief director emphasised that the country’s first electricity from nuclear energy should not be expected soon but in the next three to five years, since the processes leading to real production are cumbersome.

A successful generation of energy from nucleaer will make Ghana the second country in Africa to South Africa to generate energy from that source.

It will also put the country in a pedestal similar to the likes of China, Bulgaria, Japan, Britain and Saudi Arabia, which have various nuclear plants producing power for their industrial, commercial and household uses.

Ghana’s first attempt at getting international approval to generate power from nuclear energy started in the 1960s but was later shelved following the overthrow of the government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who masterminded, in 1966.

The move was, however, renewed in 2006 when Cabinet adopted a proposal for Ghana to go nuclear, which consequently led to the resumption of negotiations between the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MoEP) on one side and the IAEA on the other ßto seek approval and guidance on the country’s nuclear energy plan.