Ghana Partners with USA and Japan to develop SMR Nuclear Power Plant

Ghana is collaborating with the USA and Japan in its efforts to be the first implementor of the SMR nuclear reactor technology in Africa.

By Chriselle Moraes on
11th January 2023

A collaboration between the Ghana, the USA and Japan will help implement the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the West African nation. The deployment of the SMRs will enable Ghana to become an advanced nuclear technology hub. 

On 27 October 2022, Bonnie Jenkins, USA Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and Ota Fusae, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, announced enhanced cooperation to help the development of SMR, as well as other advanced reactor technologies in the partner countries. The cooperation is being provided through the 'Winning an Edge Through Cooperation in Advanced Nuclear (WECAN)' agreement between USA and Japan.

Under the WECAN agreement, both USA and Japan pledged their sustained efforts to energy innovation, energy security, and global clean energy transition in a smart, cost-effective, and secure way. 

These goals will be accomplished through using the latest technology and commercial leadership in emerging technologies that will ensure firm, reliable electricity and industrial heat. WECAN will provide support services including prerequisite technical and regulatory help and feasibility studies, to support countries in pursuing innovative nuclear technologies that will help them access clean, reliable energy and support climate objectives.

Ghana will be the first country to be supported by the USA and Japan under WECAN in the country's efforts to be the first implementor of the SMR in Africa and establish itself in nuclear technology. David Turk, US Deputy Secretary of Energy, visited Ghana on 6-7 October 2022 for consultations on enhancing cooperation on civil nuclear energy with the Ghanaian government.

Japan's government is contributing to the collaboration with Ghana under WECAN by supporting the implementation of an SMR feasibility study conducted jointly by Japanese and US companies - IHI Corporation, JGC Corporation, Regnum Technology Group, and NuScale Power. This feasibility study will be in undertaken in collaboration with the government of Ghana through the Nuclear Power Ghana, Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and the Nuclear Power Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.

The feasibility study will assess the feasibility of the potential deployment of a NuScale VOYGR SMR nuclear power plant, including infrastructure assessments and evaluation of supply chain opportunities in Ghana's market. 

All these collaboration efforts will depend on Ghana's nuclear regulation and US export controls. The Ghanaian government will decide on the nuclear technology to be deployed.

In March 2022, the USA and Ghana announced a partnership to support Ghana's use of SMR technology under the US Department of State's Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme. 

The US Department of State launched the FIRST programme in April 2021. The programme provides capacity-building support to partner countries as they develop their nuclear energy programmes to support clean energy goals under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation. 

Ghana has also already adopted the International Atomic Energy Agency's Milestones Approach, which helps countries develop their first nuclear plants in phases.

Top Photo: Nuclear Power Plant Stock Image (JamesQube | Dreamstime)

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