Why Africa Should be a Nuclear Free Zone
By Priye S. Torulagha
States are like human beings in the sense that they have ego, sometimes, too much of it. One of the ways in which states try to boost their ego is by acquiring nuclear technology, either for peaceful or military use. Generally, throughout the world, those countries that have acquired nuclear missiles are considered to be at the top of the technological pyramid of military power. Such countries or states are feared and respected because they have the capability to unleash an unbelievable destruction on any other state that threatens their national security. Therefore, the best way for states to guarantee their sovereignty is by acquiring nuclear missiles.
However, those countries that do not have nuclear missiles can also boost their ego by developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Consequently, while countries like the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear missiles and nuclear plants to boost their sovereignty as well as electrical energy, a substantial number of countries are seeking nuclear technology to boost their energy supply. In this regard, some African countries are looking for ways to increase their energy supply capability by wanting to develop nuclear energy plants. The countries that are seeking this technology are convinced that their path to industrialization and economic modernization requires them to enhance their sources of electrical energy through the nuclear route.
Regardless of the reasons given to justify the need to acquire nuclear energy plants by African countries, it is fervently argued here that the African continent should be made a nuclear free zone. Thus, given the choice of acquiring nuclear energy plants to boost electrical supply and having an unreliable supply of energy that might retard industrialization and modernization of the economy, it is preferable to go with the latter, which is of a lesser evil than with the former, which is of a much greater evil. The following provide the reasons why the continent should remain a nuclear free zone:
- Almost all the modern (post-colonial) African states were created by foreign powers. Even those countries that escaped direct colonization experienced a great deal of foreign control through direct and indirect intervention, thereby, making them not necessarily different from those that experienced direct colonization. This means that a vast majority of African countries are not free to exercise their sovereignty since the former colonial powers continue to directly and indirectly influence their actions and inactions in a remarkable manner. For instance, France played a major role in stabilizing Ivory Coast, Mali and Central African Republic following violent uprisings. Similarly, Britain played a significant role in the electoral victory of President MuhammaduBuhari in Nigeria. Of course, this does not take away the active role played by African countries to stabilize the continent.
- Almost all African countries today were forced through military and religious conquests to become what they are. This means that most of the ethnic groups which constitute them did not voluntarily accept to be in the countries they are placed in today. In other words, many ethnic groups are compelled to identify with the countries which were imposed upon them. Obviously, due to the manner in which they were incorporated, African countries would always experience separatist and irredentist conflicts as the ethnic groups and regions try to determine their fate through various means. This greatly contributes to the frequency of conflict in the continent.
- Many African states have territorial disputes with their neighbors as a result of the arbitrariness of their boundaries. The colonial powers did not care about territorial compatibility while scrambling to extend their geopolitical, economic, cultural and religious control of the continent.
- A considerable number of African states have explosive religious situation as a result of the fact that some regions are Islamized while other regions are Christianized. Furthermore, in some countries the religious divide is between the North and the South with the northern region being Islamic and the southern region being Christian. Quite often, the two sides do not see eye to eye. The Islamized regions tend to incline toward Saudi Arabia and the Arab world while the Christian regions tend to orientate toward Israel and the Western world. Apparently, almost all the African countries in which the two religions hold sway are like two headed monsters due to the ideological differences between the two religions. This threatens the national security of the countries as the two sides vie for power needlessly. Generally, Ancestralism, which is the traditional African religion, is suppressed and ignored. Most educated Africans have extensive knowledge of either Christianity or Islam with little or no knowledge of Ancestralism.
The religious factor inhibits the ability of African political leaders to build cohesive nations among the ethnic groups. In some African countries, the Islamized regions are the most dominant in controlling political, economic and military power while in some countries, the Christianized regions hold power. This creates perpetual friction, thereby, thwarting the effort to build integrated states. Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Kenya, Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, etc., are typical examples of the countries which suffer from the religious divide.
- Due to the arbitrariness of the territorial boundaries of the African states, some ethnic groups are carved into two or more countries. For instance, the Tutsis are found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The Hutus are also found in Burundi, Rwanda and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Fulanis are found in ten or more African countries, stretching from the Sene-Gambian region and extending to Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic and possibly Sudan. The Somalis are found in Somalia, Kenya, and possibly Djibouti. The Hausas can be found in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and possibly Benin Republic. The Berbers are located in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Mauretania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.The Tuaregs are found in Southern Algeria, Western Libya, Eastern Mali, Northern Niger and Northeastern Burkina Faso. The Ewe people are possibly found in Benin, Togo and Ghana. The Mande people are found in Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal. This explained why when the Liberian civil war started, it pulled Guinea and Sierra Leone into the conflict. Similarly, the interconnectedness of the ethnic groups resulted in pulling in Liberians into the Ivory Coast civil war. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a magnet for pulling in other countries into its affairs due to the interconnectedness of many ethnic groups. Any conflict in the Lake Chad region is most likely to pull in ethnic groups from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and possibly Cameroon.
The splitting of some ethnic groups into two or more countries creates regional political problems for all the states in which they are carved into. The reason is that if a part of the ethnic group in one country is embroiled in conflict, the other parts of the ethnic group are likely to join the fray by supporting their kith and kin, thereby, spreading the conflict. This accounted for why Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and occasionally Uganda are always faced with conflicts emanating from other countries due to the Tutsi and Hutu rivalry. The spreading of Somalis into Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti and Kenya enables the Al Shabab militant group, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, to operate freely in Somalia and Northern Kenya. The Boko Haram is able to penetrate and operate in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad due to the affinity of the ethnic groups in the Lake Chad Basin.
- Since the African states supposedly gained independence, the ethnic groups which constitute them have not been allowed to hold a referendum or a major national conference designed to determine the nature, structure and political orientations of the states. This means that modern African countries continue to maintain the territorial boundaries and constitutional structures that the colonial powers left behind. Only very few countries have been able to amend the colonial structures of their political, legal and governmental arrangements. The failure to restructure the states in order to ensure political, cultural and territorial compatibility with the African circumstances contributes greatly to the unstable nature of many African countries. This is why any African state can implode at any given moment due to the contradictions embedded in the colonial structures. It should be noted that after much wrangling and a drawn-out bloody civil war, Sudan allowed a referendum to take place. This enabled the Southern Sudan region to secede and establish the Republic of South Sudan. Nigeria continues to dance in circle about constituting a national conference to determine the fate of the country. The most comprehensive constitutional conference was organized during the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. However, there seems to be no political eagerness to implement the recommendations made during the conference.
- Almost all African states continue to mimic the political, educational, judicial, military and law enforcement systems that the colonial powers put in place. This means that the beliefs and political cultures of post-colonial African states are not compatible with the cultures of the African ethnic groups. Therefore, these countries have imposed political, judicial, and administrative value systems, cultures, and institutions which force people to behave contrary to the traditional African cultural, political, judicial and social systems. In other words, almost all post-colonial African states operate systems that are contrary to the traditional African cultures of the ethnic groups that constitute them. This is responsible for why so many educated Africans are ignorant of their traditional cultural beliefs, values, practices and traditions. Many tend to justify their ignorance by claiming to be Christians or Moslems. Even African heads of states suffer from the inability to connect with the traditions of their ethnic groups.
- In particular, politics is played in a win or loss manner, which is typical of the Machiavellian orientation of European/Western and Islamic political systems which are contrary to the compromise and consensus approach of the African political system. This leads to unnecessary power struggles among individuals, political parties, ethnic groups and regions. It also increases religious tensions as the Christians and Moslems vie for power.
- As a result of the territorial, religious, political, cultural and ethnic problems, African countries have borne a large proportion of the most bloody and destructive wars in the world in the middle and later part of the twentieth and early part of the twenty-first centuries. The list of countries that have experienced bloody conflicts include Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Libya, Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, Central African Republic, etc. While countries like Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Mauretania, Togo, etc. have not experienced bloody civil wars, they have had series of crises that led to deaths of hundreds of people.
- More than any other continent, African leaders tend to cling to power as if the countries are their personal estates. As a result, many of them have no qualms about amending the constitutions of their countries in order to remain in power as if they are monarchs. The behavior contributes to instability in many African countries as the leaders refuse to leave. Burundi was thrown into chaos when the incumbent president decided to run again for another term. The president of Chad has ran for reelection about five times. Thus, Africa seems to have the highest number of leaders who rule endlessly. Some of the countries in which the leaders have remained in power for so long include Angola, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea and so on and so forth. Tunisians had to stage the Arab uprising in order to remove a long-ruling leader that acted like a king. Libyans revolted and eventually had Col Muamar Gaddafi killed. His killing really torn the country apart, thereby, producing numerous armed groups that continue to vie for power.
- In some countries, the political and military leaders are bent on establishing political dynasties by making sure that their children succeed them. Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, Libya under Col. Gaddafi, Togo under President Eyadema, Gabon under President Omar Bongo followed the dynastic format until the Arab uprising shattered the Tunisian, Libyan and Egyptian efforts. In Nigeria, in order to consolidate the elite control of the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria secretly embarked upon a program intended to employ the children of the political, military, police and business elites of the country, at the general disadvantage of the populace.
- Perhaps, more than any other continent, Africa seems to have the least equipped medical facilities in the world. Sub-Saharan Africa is worse than Arabic Africa. Sophisticated modern hospitals with latest medical technologies are a rarity in Sub-Saharan African countries. This means that most Sub-Saharan countries do not have medical facilities that can treat various kinds of maladies since they are poorly equipped. Specialist hospitals are also a rarity. Apart from lack of infrastructure, there is also lack of appropriate drugs for treating various ailments. The lack of commitment by political leaders in building modern medical facilities forces many highly trained medical doctors in the continent to seek employment in other parts of the world. Of course, African leaders always seek medical treatment overseas while leaving the rest of their citizens to rely on the underequipped and wretched medical facilities at home. Here again, South Africa and may be Morocco might be an exception. Libya had good hospitals until the civil war came.
12, Many African countries are bedecked by regional, tribal and religious problems. In some countries, only one region seems to dominate the entire political landscape while other regions are neglected, marginalized and deprived. In some countries, individuals from one or two ethnic groups dominate economically, politically, militarily and otherwise. This forces other ethnic groups to react, sometimes violently to express their dissatisfaction. As a result, many African countries are prone to conflict. Countries like Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe and so forth, tend to suffer from this kind of political situation. Nigeria too pays a very high price as the North tends to dominate the country while the South reacts in various ways. In Ivory Coast, the North rebelled due to marginalization by the South. Somalis in Kenya complained that their region was marginalized for decades, hence, no major infrastructural development was instituted in that part of the country until recently.
- 1 In almost all the countries in the continent, national resources are not distributed in a manner that benefit all the ethnic groups, regions and provinces that constitute them. This means that one or two regions or ethnic groups benefit the most while others are ignored, marginalized and or deprived. In fact, it is strongly believed that the marginalization and discrimination against the Somali part of Kenya resulted in the youths in that region joining Al Shabab in large numbers. The marginalization, deprivation and discrimination in the distribution of the oil wealth led to the youths in the Niger Delta/South-South to militantly oppose oil exploration before an amnesty program was established to deescalate the conflict in Nigeria. The Cabindan region of Angola threatened to secede due to marginalization and deprivation. The same factor contributed to the civil war in Ivory Coast when the northern region rebelled against perceived southern discrimination and neglect. The Libyan rebellion began inn Benghazi since the eastern region was marginalized and deprived.
- In almost every African country, a tiny minority of the elites wield political power as well as dominate the countries to the point where the vast majority of the citizens simply exist by God’s grace. The children of the tiny minority of the elites benefit greatly from the resources of the states while a majority of the children of the masses suffer for lack of governmental support of any kind.
- In many African countries, social welfare programs are lacking and the citizens merely exist at the periphery of society. On the other hand, the elites are able to loot vast resources of the state to enhance their wellbeing. Generally, as indicated earlier, the elites seek medical treatment overseas and the masses seek medical services in dilapidated and underequipped hospitals at home.
- As a result of the frequency of conflict, Africa seems to have one of the highest proportion of military veterans in the world. Some of the veterans are as young as ten years old. These veterans move about from place to place seeking to offer their military skills for pay. Therefore, these veterans are easily recruited to form non-state armed groups by disaffected individuals and groups.
- Similarly, due to the frequency of armed conflicts, the African continent is saturated with large quantities of sophisticated arms. In particular, the collapse of Libya after the killing of Col. Gaddafi resulted in the spreading of large quantities of sophisticated arms across the continent. In some cases, some non-state armed groups are now better equipped and paid much more than soldiers fighting for the states.
- As a result of the unresolved territorial, structural and political problems, coupled with the high number of trained military veterans and the easy availability of arms, increasingly, almost every ethnic group in the continent now has armed elements that can easily be mobilized into a fighting force in a moment’s notice. This means that technically, every country in the continent has more than one army.
The identified factors (#1 – 18) are listed here to show that the African political landscape is characterized by multiple conflict fault-lines that can result in uncontrollable explosion of violence at any given time. In other words, due to the contradictions, irreconcilable tendencies, religious and ethnic differences, abuse of political power, corruptible appetites of the political and business elites, tension-driven power politics and the unequal distribution of resources and national wealth, any African country can explode in violence at any given time. It should be noted that there was a time Ivory Coast was considered as an island of stability in West Africa. Then the country exploded in violence. Similarly, there was also a time in which Kenya was considered as an island of stability in East Africa, then it exploded in electoral violence. North Africa too is very hot since Libya is like a broken glass that has exploded in violence, Before then, Algeria had a very bloody war with radical elements. Egypt is searching for its soul while Islamic jihadists threaten the entire Middle East, including North and West Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo which is technically one of the richest countries in the world, due to availability of numerous minerals, is also one of the poorest. It is always bedecked by violent conflicts. The DRC represents the worst of the contradictions that exist in Africa. The Republic of South Sudan which is barely four years old, after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, is already ravaged by a bloody conflict.
Despite the frequency of destabilizing circumstances, African people have been able to manage various crises, working by themselves or in cooperation with international organizations to bring sanity to each conflict situation. However, the African ability to manage crises would be severely tested if nuclear plants are introduced into the continent in an effort to boost the supply of electricity in some countries.
Consequently, it would be a strategic miscalculation of the worst kind for any African country to institute a nuclear technological program, whether for peaceful or military use. Similarly, it is unthinkable that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would even consider granting an authority to establish a nuclear energy plant to any African country, at the present time when fundamental structural and constitutional issues have not been resolved in the continent. The following provides the reasons why it would be a monumental mistake for any African country to tread a path that could render itself and subsections of the continent unlivable for millions of people:
- Unlike any other technology, nuclear technology is too dangerous and beyond human capability to control and manage it effectively. As soon as it is instituted, it acts like a genie that has been released from the bottle and immediately assumes a life of its own by perpetually threatening to cause a disaster.Hence, the disadvantages of having a nuclear plant far outweigh the advantages of having it.
2, The difference between a nuclear military missile and a peaceful nuclear plant is not much. The only perceivable difference is that a nuclear military missile is intended to devastate an external foe or enemy while a peaceful nuclear plant is intended for self-destruction. The reason is that if a peaceful nuclear plant explodes as had happened in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, which is now in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan, the area could be so contaminated by radioactive materials that it might not be habitable for decades, if not hundreds of years. Right now, Chernobyl and the surrounding environment is sealed off and people are not allowed to go near the place. The Chernobyl explosion took place thirty years ago, yet, the area is still too dangerous for people to live or eat any food or fish or meat from the area. Likewise, the vicinity of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant too is now a no go area due to the fear of exposure to dangerous levels of radioactive materials. No one can predict how long the area might remain uninhabitable.
- Apart from explosion emanating from an accident or a technical problem, there is always concern that someone or a group can intentionally launch a conventional missile or rocket attack against a nuclear plant, thereby, igniting a firestorm which could lead to explosive reaction from radioactive materials in the plant? Thus, as soon as a nuclear plant is developed, it becomes a sitting target. In the event of a civil war, the plant immediately becomes an attractive target for a group that feels that it can win the war tactically by inflicting maximum destruction. The world should be grateful that Iraq, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, DRC, Central African Republic, Somalia, Angola, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, did not and do not have nuclear plants.
- Similarly, if a war erupts between two countries, with one having a nuclear plant in its territory while the other does not have a nuclear plant in its territory, the one without a nuclear plant could be tempted to carry out a tactical preemptive aerial bombardment of the nuclear plant in the other country in order to inflict maximum damage. Indeed, with a jet fighter, it is quite easy to launch a missile attack against a nuclear plant. In Africa where political conflicts are very common, it is easy to attack a nuclear plant and render a large territorial area uninhabitable for decades.
- Nuclear technology is too complicated and expensive to maintain. A nuclear plant requires a hands on around the clock supervision, maintenance and coordination. It is foolhardy to cut corners while operating a nuclear plant. It requires a highly skilled technical workforce that is highly disciplined and dedicated so that mistakes are not made. No African country, apart from South Africa that has the manpower and technical proficiency to operate a nuclear plant. Countries that find it exceedingly difficult to operate ordinary hydroelectric plants should not even contemplate about establishing a nuclear plant to generate electricity. It is a fact that many African countries find it difficult to generate sufficient amount of hydroelectric energy at the present time. If they find it so difficult to operate a simple hydroelectric technology, can anyone imagine what will happen if nuclear technology is introduced?
- 6. One of the major challenges in operating a nuclear plant is where to keep or store the spent fuel rods safely. This is always a major challenge because the spent fuel rods can remain radioactive for hundreds of years. Where in Africa would it be safe to store spent fuel rods, considering the frequency of conflict in the continent? Even the so called advanced industrial countries grapple with the issue of safely storing the spent fuel rods. Perhaps, a technology might be developed in the future which might make it easy to manage the spent fuel rod problem.
- 7. No amount of security can provide protection for a nuclear plant anywhere in Africa, whether in Sub-Saharan or Arabic Africa. The reason is that even if ten thousands troops are mobilized to protect a nuclear plant, it can still be attacked. A missile can be launched from a mile or two away to knock off the plant. If the plant is attacked with a missile, those maintaining security in the vicinity would flee from the scene to avoid being contaminated by radiation. Africa should be grateful that Col. Muammar Gaddafi dismantled his nuclear program before Libya erupted in violent rebellion against the leader.
- 8. No African country, perhaps, with the exception of South Africa, has a highly skilled technical manpower that can be able to build and maintain a nuclear plant without an outside assistance. It is dangerous for any developing country to rely on external human technical assistance to build and operate a nuclear plant. The reason is that if something goes wrong, the foreign experts and operators might run away, thereby, leaving helpless citizens in the vicinity of the plant to pay the ultimate price.
- 9. Similarly, no African country, with the exception of South Africa, has the technological wherewithal to build the equipment and parts necessary to operate and maintain a nuclear plant. This means that any country in the continent that builds a nuclear plant is going to rely extensively on foreign technical parts to run the operation. Here again, there is an inherent risk associated with depending on foreign countries to produce essential technical parts needed to replace damaged and worn out parts of a nuclear plant. It should be noted that in many African countries, industrial projects are often left to rot away due to lack of replacement parts. It is risky to operate a nuclear plant based on parts coming from foreign sources.
- 10. A considerable number of African countries do not have the financial resources necessary to run a nuclear plant. The reason is that it is a very expensive proposition. It would be too dangerous to stop operating a nuclear plant after it has been built due to lack of funds. In particular, countries which rely primarily on revenues generated from natural resources can easily run into financial problems if the prices of the resources go down in the world market. For instance, Angola, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria and many other oil producing countries are now facing financial difficulties since oil price started going Some oil producing countries have been forced to reduce their budgetary allocations due to the shortfall in oil price.
- Likewise, it is not advisable for countries which rely on one primary commodity to run their economies to build nuclear plants, regardless of the reasons given for justifying the need. The main reason why it is strategically inadvisable for one commodity-based countries to build nuclear plants is that if the price of the commodity goes down, the nuclear plant could be jeopardized for lack of funds to run a twenty-four hour operation.
- A particularly worrisome aspect of the nuclear energy idea is that due to the rampancy of corruption in the continent, nuclear plant construction could be compromised by the use of cheap or inferior materials that could lead to many problems. This concern should not be dismissed off-handedly, considering the fact that many modern buildings have collapsed, resulting in the deaths of many people in various parts of the continent due to shoddy work or inferior materials or poor structural foundations. Thus, there is no guarantee that someone might not want to make a considerable amount of money by cutting corners while building a nuclear plant.
- 13. It should be noted that despite the fact that Africa has experienced many bloody conflicts in the last five decades, the people have been able to rebuild their lives and reconstruct the infrastructure due to the fact that the conflicts involved the use of conventional weapons that did not cause radiation. Indeed, the Nigerians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Ivorians, Malians, Congolese, Chadians, Nigeriens, Libyans, Algerians, Angolans, Mozambicans, Rwandans, Ugandans, Sudanese and so on and so forth fought destructive wars in which thousands, if not millions, as in the case of Nigeria and DRC, were killed, yet, they survived and rebuild. The ability to survive and rebuild after a catastrophic crisis would be severely challenged if a nuclear technology, whether for warfare or peaceful use, is introduced into the equation. In other words, if a nuclear plant runs into a problem and releases radioactive elements into the environment, the people in the vicinity of the plant would have to evacuate their territory for decades or hundreds of years. The danger is that an ethnic group could have its territory so contaminated that the members of the ethnic group might be forced to become refugees in other peoples’ territories. The question is, which ethnic group in Africa would be so favorably inclined towards abandoning its own territory and become nomadic due to a nuclear fall-out disaster?
Moreover, in the event of a nuclear plant disaster, millions of people could be forced to evacuate their homelands as the wind carries the radioactive elements around. In other words, as it is being proposed in Nigeria, if any of the proposed two nuclear plants intended to be located in Akwa Ibom and Kogi States run into a problem, radioactive elements could be spread around. In the case of the proposed plant in Akwa Ibom State, the states of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States in Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroon and possibly Equatorial Guinea might be affected by radiation, in the event of a nuclear melt-down. This means that thousands, if not millions of Ibibios could be forced to evacuate their territory and seek shelter somewhere. Such evacuation could render them homeless and make them perpetual refugees. The same goes for the nuclear plant being proposed for Kogi State. Kogi State is almost in the center of Nigeria. Therefore, a serious nuclear plant melt-down could inflict serious damage in the territories of many ethnic groups in that part of the country. Similarly, if a country like Ghana were to build a nuclear plant, the government must realize that in the event of a malfunctioning of the plant due to overheating or explosion, radioactive materials could be spread to Togo, Benin Republic and possibly Ivory Coast, depending on the exact location of the plant.
Of course, those who support the building of nuclear plants as a means to boost electrical energy might view this writer as an alarmist who is trying to scare people away from supporting the effort. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider the points raised here to show the potential danger that can take place as soon as a nuclear plant is built. Toiling with a nuclear technology is like wining and dining with the devil because any serious mishap can lead to very catastrophic consequences. It should be noted that after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, European countries became very concerned about the consequences of a nuclear plant meltdown. Hence, Germany announced a plan to phase out nuclear energy in 1998. France cancelled a plan to build several nuclear reactors. It also decided to replace aging nuclear plants with safer fossil fuel plants. Italy, in a referendum in 2011, rejected a 2003 legislative bill intended to increase electricity by 25 percent through nuclear power. The Fukushima nuclear plant disaster added to the urgency to phase out nuclear plants in some countries. Even the Japanese are no longer dedicated to the building of new nuclear energy plants. These so called advanced industrial countries have realized that it is very difficult to manage a nuclear plant disaster, even with the best of available technology. Apparently, if the advanced industrial countries of the world are trying to denuclearize their sources of energy, why should any African country contemplates building a nuclear energy plant in its territory?
Indeed, the African political environment is too porous and unstable for any country in the continent to contemplate building a nuclear energy plant. The reason is that the countries have not been able to create sustainable nationhood from the multitudes of ethnic, tribal, regional, political and religious groups that constitute them. Due to the failure, separatist and irredentist incidents occur quite frequently, thereby, negating the concept of national unity. Most of the countries lack modern medical facilities that are capable of taking care of the medical needs of thousands of people in times of emergency. Likewise, highly specialized medical treatment centers that can take care of patients who suffer from catastrophic incidents are a rarity. Apart from the Republic of South Africa, no country in the continent has the technological wherewithal to engage in mass industrial production of technical goods and services. Added to the deficits mentioned above, nuclear technology demands high technical proficiency that is lacking in the continent. Moreover, nuclear energy plants are too dangerous and uncontrollable.
Consequently, it is argued that the disadvantages of having a nuclear plant greatly outweigh the advantages of having one. As a result, Africans must do everything possible in their power to avoid constructing nuclear power plants in the continent. In a nutshell, Africa should remain a nuclear free zone. Instead of embarking upon the construction of nuclear energy plants, African countries should put a greater emphasis in developing less dangerous sources of energy, such as solar, wind, biomass, biofuel, geothermal and hydropower plants to generate electricity.
It is suicidal to put or place an uncontrollable and untamable technology that is capable of inflicting an irreparable damage in a continent that is already characterized by multitude of unresolved territorial, structural, political, economic, medical and religious issues.