UGANDA – The Government of Uganda signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia to help the country build capacity to exploit nuclear technology for energy, industrial, medical, agricultural use and other peaceful purposes.

The agreement was signed by a Rosatom representative and Ugandan Energy Minister Irene Muloni on the side-lines of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference in Vienna.

The government of President Yoweri Museveni has previously said it is eager to use the country’s uranium deposits to boost energy production capacity.

In an emailed statement, Uganda’s energy ministry said the IGA with Russia was signed in Vienna on Tuesday between Energy Minister Irene Muloni and Nikolai Spasskiy, the deputy director general of Russian state corporation Rosatom.

Under the agreement, the statement said, Russia will help Uganda with development of nuclear infrastructure and production and application of radioisotopes for industrial, healthcare and agricultural use.

“Spasskiy expressed the commitment and readiness of Rosatom to support Uganda’s plans to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy especially in the nuclear power plant development,” the statement said.

Uganda’s energy needs are expected to jump in coming years as it prepares to start producing crude oil in 2022 from fields in its west where reserves of 6 billion barrels were discovered in 2006.

Uganda’s ministry of energy and mineral development has previously said the country has substantial deposits of uranium but reserve estimates are not known as the mineral has not been commercially explored.

This deal comes as Moscow seeks to strengthen its influence in Africa. State-owned Russian companies have been key part of the strategy to bolster Moscow’s presence in Africa.

The deal “lays the foundation for specific cooperation between Russia and Uganda” in the field of nuclear energy, Rosatom said.

It also paves way for working together in the creation of nuclear energy infrastructure, the production of radioisotopes for industry, medicine, agriculture, as well as the training of personnel.

Rosatom said the parties had agreed to organise visits by specialists in the near future.

Moscow first signed a memorandum of understanding with Kampala on nuclear energy in 2017, ahead of Beijing, which signed a similar agreement in 2018.