The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, on behalf of the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, 29th July, 2019, commissioned the Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) Core Research Reactor Facility, International Miniature Neutron Source Reactor Training Facility and Radiological and Medical Science Research Institute Laboratories building added to the Scientific Research and Development Institution of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) at the Reactor Site of the Commission, Atomic.
Government has over the years laid the foundations to build on the nuclear potential of the nation. With the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Governments of the United States of America, China and Russia, the Government acquired these three facilities.
The process for acquiring these facilities started as far back as 1994. Ghana in August, 2017 became the only nation outside of China to successfully convert all highly enriched uranium fueled research reactors to low reactors; successfully completing an international project meant to replace the use of high enriched uranium (HEU) with Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) for which Ghana received an outstanding performance award from the National NuclearSecurity Administration, Department of Energy of the United States of America (USA).
His Excellency Mahamudu Bawumia, in an address at a durbar to commission the facilities on behalf of the President, was full of praise for the effort of the team of Scientists at GAEC and said it augurs well for the future of the nation in the application of nuclear power in some key sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
"I wish to congratulate the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) for its contribution to the development of the country through the application of nuclear science and technology in the areas such as Health, Agriculture and Industry. I am informed that it was through the efforts of the Commission that the two Radiotherapy Centres at Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals were established for the treatment of Cancer", he stated.
He continued, "I have also taken keen note of your research in irradiation, which would prolong the shelf life of such staples as yam, maize, and beans. This would go a long way to reduce post-harvest losses. This bodes well for the future of the nation in the field of nuclear science and we can reach for the skies and beyond with our Nuclear Scientists".
The Vice President also reiterated the support of the Government for the use of science and technology in the development of the nation.
"We can't go anywhere as a nation without Science and Technology. PrevioGovernments have paid little attention to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and Science and Technology as a whole but I assure you that Nana Akufo-Addo has his eyes on science and technology and will continue to support and show appreciation for it by giving financial support to projects like this", he added.
In view of this, the Vice President disclosed that Government has already initiated moves to establish a nuclear power plant.
"Cabinet has approved the setting up of an organization to oversee the construction and operation of Ghana's first Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and believe it will also help our quest to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals; specifically, Good Health and Well-being, as well as Quality Education, which will transform the Nation", he noted.
Dr Kweku Aning, a former Deputy Director for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who chaired the function, commended GAEC for their efforts across the continent in the use of nuclear power and called for the conversion of nuclear power to complement the generation of power for the nation.
"We are glad the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission is receiving the deserved recognition. We are now training other African countries who have little research into nuclear power. I believe, with help, we will convert our nuclear power to complement our hydro source to reduce our electricity challenge", Dr. Aning stated.
The Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko expressed utmost appreciation to successive Governments for their support towards GAEC's nuclear projects and programmes.
He, however, revealed that after the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who established GAEC, and Col. Acheampong, no sitting President and or Vice has ever visited the Commission until last Tuesday's visit by H.E. Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and highly commended him in that respect.
"It's been 43 years since Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong visited GAEC in 1976. Since then, this is the first time a high ranking government official has visited GAEC. You have demonstrated that you have a passion for Science and Technology. We are grateful for Government's generous cabinet approvals that have taken place for the establishment of the Nuclear Power Plant. The sector Minister, Hon. Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng has also put in a lot of effort to see to the development of GAEC", he said.
He appealed to the government for the conversion of the Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences into a full-fledged University.
"The onset of the Free SHS means many people will be entering our Universities. I plead with the Government to help us convert this School into a full-fledged University so we can offer Postgraduate Studies in Nuclear Science to give this school an international status", Prof. Nyarko said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Shi Ting Wang, in his address commended Ghana on the peaceful use of Nuclear Energy and invited Chinese companies to support Africa's use of Nuclear Energy.
"I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Ghana's efforts in the successful conversion of High Enriched Uranium Fueled Research Reactors to Low Enriched Uranium-fuelled Research Reactors and the peaceful use of Nuclear Energy. I hereby call on Chinese Organisations and Companies to support Africa's use of Nuclear Power and help in the capacity-building of it", he said.
The function was graced by several high-ranked Government officials from the United States of America, Russia, China, India, as wells as the IAEA.
Also present were the Hon. Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), Hon. Sarah Adwoa Safo, Member of Parliament (MP) for Dome-Kwabenya Constituency and Minister of State in charge of Public Procurement, and Hon. Janet Tulasi Mensah, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA), among a host of dignitaries.
An art-portrait of the President and the First Lady, developed by Caleb Nii Ako-Nai and Thomas Quincy, who are citizens of the Ga East Municipality, was presented to the President through the Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
By: Andrew Tagoe
Pictures: Philip Ayesu/Andrew Tagoe