In a world grappling with energy demands and environmental concerns, nuclear power offers a potential solution that cannot be ignored. For Ghana, a country with rising energy needs and ambitions to become a regional energy hub, nuclear energy presents an opportunity for sustainable development. However, limited knowledge and misconceptions surrounding nuclear power have hindered informed discourse within the country. This feature story aims to shed light on Ghana’s journey towards bridging the information gaps and fostering a complete, nationwide understanding of nuclear energy.
The energy challenge
As Ghana’s population grows rapidly and industries thrive, the need for electricity amplifies significantly. Over the years, the country’s energy generation capacity has been strained, leading to erratic power supply and dependence on expensive imports. Recognizing this predicament, the government formulated a national energy policy, which identified nuclear power as a key component in diversifying Ghana’s energy mix. However, for Ghana to successfully implement nuclear power on a larger scale, it is essential to bridge the information gaps within the public sphere.
Efforts towards information dissemination
Acknowledging the significance of public awareness and acceptance, Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) together with Energy Ministry (Government), Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA), Technical and Scientific Support Organisations (TSOs) has undertaken various measures to educate the population about nuclear energy. Collaborating with international organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Nuclear Power Ghana has organized workshops, conferences, and public forums aimed at dispelling myths surrounding nuclear technology.
Engaging education and media outlets
To accomplish effective knowledge dissemination, Nuclear Power Ghana has strategically reached out to educational institutions including Ho Technical University, University of Media, Arts and Communication ( UniMAC –IJ ) and media outlets. By introducing nuclear education in curriculums, universities and schools are preparing students to become future stakeholders in the field. Moreover, television and radio programmes, documentaries, and online materials through African Editors, GNA have been produced to inform and engage the wider public. These efforts have contributed towards fostering a culture of dialogue and facilitating open discussions on nuclear energy.
Public engagement and addressing concerns
Recognizing the importance of engaging directly with communities, nuclear power Ghana has established community outreach programmes to ensure citizens’ concerns are heard and addressed. By organising town hall meetings, community workshops, and dialogue sessions, NPG’s experts participate in direct conversation with those potentially impacted by nuclear power projects. This transparent approach not only dispels any ambiguity but also provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and opportunities for citizens to have an active role in shaping the country’s energy future.
The role of social media
Harnessing the power of virtual connectivity, NPG actively utilizes social media channels to disseminate accurate and accessible information about nuclear energy. By creating engaging content, fact-checking myths, and answering questions, they have managed to reach a wider audience and bridge the information gaps more effectively. In a world driven by technology, this digital engagement is paramount for connecting with the youth and future leaders of Ghana.
Facts about nuclear power that must be trumpeted
• Nuclear Power is very safe and has the lowest mortality death rate in any of the power plants in the world.
• Indeed, the three major nuclear accidents recorded so far have forced the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to put in place strict regulatory measures to minimize future nuclear accidents.
• Nuclear Power has the potential to provide affordable and reliable baseload power for stimulating industrialization and economic development.
• With Nuclear Power, Ghana can increase significantly the contribution of variable renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
• Nuclear Power is environmentally friendly as it emits no greenhouse gas and therefore a sure way to propelling energy transition to Net Zero emission.
• The support of the Media is very key minimizing the fear of public perception in nuclear power development.
The support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other stakeholders including the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment, Volta River Authority, Bui Power Authority, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Authority, GRIDCO, Parliament, the media in Ghana’s Nuclear Power programme towards the achievement of Net Zero Energy Transmission and the UN Sustainable Development Goal is highly appreciated.
Through these pioneering efforts, Ghana is navigating uncharted territory by paving the way towards building a comprehensive and informed nuclear energy discourse. As the nation stands at the precipice of harnessing nuclear energy’s potential, continued investment in public education and an open dialogue will be crucial to establishing a strong foundation of understanding.
Media advocacy is an approach that aims to use media outlets and platforms to raise awareness, influence public opinions, and advocate for specific issues and causes. Strategies for media advocacy include education and awareness, expert engagement, storytelling, media partnerships, public events and online presence.
In conclusion, Ghana’s journey of bridging information gaps on nuclear energy demonstrates a commitment to responsible decision-making and inclusive public engagement. By fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, debunking misconceptions, and addressing concerns head-on, the nation is empowering its citizens to make informed decisions about Ghana’s energy future. Through perseverance and collaboration, Ghana is on its way to becoming a trailblazer in nuclear power implementation within the sub-Saharan region.
The author of this piece is Jerry John Akornor a journalist with the Ignite Media Group.