By Esther Musyoka
An important consideration to make when introducing nuclear electricity generation in a country is the need to continuously push factual information to spur understanding among its stakeholders and or public on aspects involved in nuclear power development.
Every country considering to embark on this discourse or expand its nuclear power programme is exposed to a unique experience in terms of addressing the 19 infrastructure issues provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as guidelines for developing a nuclear power programme. Key among these issues is how to go about undertaking public education and sensitization as regards this source of energy whose dialogue provokes an array of emotions.
On 2nd to 8th October 2017, KNEB participated in the annual Agricultural Society of Kenya, Nairobi International Trade Fair (NITF) at Jamhuri Show ground. This was the 5th time in a row KNEB is exhibiting at the Fair that boasts of attracting more than 250 exhibitors and over 500,000 visitors from all walks of life. The Fair has provided a pivotal avenue for Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) to promote public awareness, sensitization and consultation to earn and sustain public acceptance of nuclear technology for power generation in Kenya.
Along one of the busiest streets of the Fair stood a welcoming KNEB branded structure. Inside, a team of conspicuous KNEB officers in corporate attire each strategically positioned engaged visitors who thronged the Stand for take-away nuggets of knowledge about Kenya’s quest for nuclear electricity generation.
Visitors marveled with keen interest at the virtual tour using a virtual reality kit inside a Chinese HPR 1000 Hualong nuclear power plant model on site. The tour exposed visitors to a feel of the interior of a typical nuclear power plant; an approach KNEB innovated to help demystify some of the myths associated with nuclear energy. Before checking out of the Stand, the well-seasoned officers would further engage visitors in a one on one dialogue to respond to their concerns as Kenya walks the talk to commission the first nuclear power plant to generate 1,000MW in 2027.
KNEB sidebar conversations with Fair participants established that the support of many Kenyans for nuclear power generation is tied to continual public awareness on nuclear energy or lack of it.
The journey to building and sustaining informed stakeholders and citizenry runs from the time a country considers introducing nuclear power generation trough the lifetime of the plant estimated at eighty to hundred years. KNEB has adopted myriad methodologies to illuminate Kenya’s quest for nuclear power development. This is commensurate with one of the functions upon which the establishment of KNEB is anchored to that is, undertake public education and awareness on Kenya’s nuclear power programme.
Besides Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Shows, other initiatives for disseminating nuclear messages across the country include engaging the County governments through County Forums, workshops/retreats with the Parliament, Nuclear Energy and Career Talks for High School, Tertiary and University students and community talks with residents of Counties likely to host nuclear power plants.