The U.S. Embassy in Ghana last week announced $1.75 million to support establishing the West African nation as a small modular reactor regional training hub and center of excellence for the sub-Saharan African region.
The project is backed by the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) capacity-building program, in which Ghana has participated since 2022.
The funding will be used to bolster the country’s nuclear workforce development, including the provision of an SMR control room simulator, university partnerships, and academic exchanges to help position Ghana as a training hub for nuclear power technicians and operators, according to the embassy’s September 13 announcement.
Official words: “With this support, Ghana will be positioned to develop a skilled nuclear workforce for the country and the region consistent with the highest international standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation,” said Ann Ganzer, U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation. “This partnership will assist Ghana and other like-minded countries in the region in moving toward clean, affordable, safe, and secure energy sources.”
Background: The United States and Ghana jointly launched their FIRST program partnership in late February 2022. At the time, the U.S. State Department said that FIRST would assist Ghana in adopting SMR technology, “including support for stakeholder engagement, advanced technical collaboration, and project evaluation and planning.” The department also noted that “Japan has been a valuable partner with the United States on the FIRST program and will build on its existing partnership with Ghana to advance Ghana’s civil nuclear power aspirations.”
In November 2022, the United States and Japan announced Winning an Edge Through Cooperation in Advanced Nuclear (WECAN)—an agreement aimed at aiding the deployment of SMRs and other advanced reactor technologies in partner countries.
And earlier this year, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Ghanaian Nuclear Regulatory Authority reaffirmed their shared commitment to continue cooperation on nuclear safety and regulation for Ghana. NRC chair Christopher Hanson and NRA director general Nii Kwashie Allotey discussed their collaboration since the 2017 signing of an inaugural bilateral arrangement for cooperation and the exchange of technical information. According to the NRC, the U.S. agency and the NRA have engaged frequently on a variety of nuclear energy safety- and security-related topics as Ghana develops a regulatory oversight program for nuclear power.