Rosatom: El Dabaa NPP Is a Dream Come True for Egypt’s Society
For many decades, Egypt lived the dream of having its own nuclear power programme. With the signing into effect of the notices to proceed with the contracts for Egypt’s first nuclear power plant at El Dabaa, that dream is finally coming true. It goes without saying that the clean and affordable electricity that will be produced by the NPP and its effect will have a dramatic impact on Egypt’s economy, securing the electricity supplies for decades to come for Egypt’s steadily growing population. Perhaps less obvious, however, but no less significant, is the wider impact of the El Dabaa NPP project on the country’s development.
Considering what a technically, logistically and infrastructural complex undertaking that the establishment of a nuclear power plant is, especially when it is the first one to be built in a country, the project inevitably spans areas far beyond the construction, operation and maintenance of the plant itself, leading to the creation of an entire ecosystem around the plant and driving major developments in a number of related fields. All of this naturally has a tremendous social impact, directly affecting people’s lives. Former IAEA Chief Inspector Dr. Ibrahim El Osery lists the benefits that Egypt’s first nuclear power plant will bring to the country, ‘The [El Dabaa] nuclear power project will help local industries as well as encouraging tourism, creating new jobs and reducing unemployment, and contribute to a cleaner environment,’ – and that is only the tip of the iceberg.
For the Matrouh governorate, which has for decades remained underdeveloped despite its prime location on the Mediterranean coast, the NPP will bring about a dramatic change. The electricity generated at the NPP will not only supply stable energy to the region but also power the development of the consumer goods and services sector due to the improved infrastructure created as a result of the El Dabaa NPP project. These changes will be instrumental in developing the region’s vast and as yet untapped potential as a tourist destination. Already plans have been announced by the governor of Matrouh to invest USD 10 billion over ten years in establishing a tourist, economic and logistical centre in West Matrouh, which is expected to create some 25,000 jobs.
Dr Karim Abd Al-Adham, Spokesperson of the Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority in Egypt, says, ‘Matrouh province, being the area hosting the project, will get more benefits. This will be manifested in developed infrastructure to match the logistic requirements for the project. This will be reflected in creating more jobs either directly for the project or indirectly for the related logistic services. ’
The NPP itself will naturally become one of the largest employers in the region, providing thousands of jobs for Egyptians during the construction stage and thousands more for the plant’s operation and maintenance during its service lifetime of more than 60 years. This means that, for decades, the El Dabaa NPP will be providing stable, well-paid employment to thousands of Egyptians – operation and maintenance personnel, engineers, research scientists and other specialists.
Former IAEA Chief Inspector Dr Yousry Abu Shady days, ‘The nuclear and other non-nuclear projects [related to the El Dabaa project] will open opportunities for many jobs. Most of these jobs would require technical training for youth with high or medium or even lower education. It is certain that such projects in El Dabaa will significantly eliminate the current unemployment problem there.’
Importantly, as part of its contracts, Rosatom, the Russian company responsible for the implementation of the project, will assist in the training and education of Egypt’s nuclear cadre. Specifically, future El Dabaa NPP staff will undergo training both in Egypt and in Russia, becoming familiar with the best industry practices. Furthermore, Egyptian students will benefit from exchange programmes with Russia. At the moment, about 50 Egyptians are already studying nuclear sciences and related subjects at Russia’s leading technical universities, with hundreds more to follow in their footsteps over the next few years. As Dr Al-Adham stresses, ‘Training is an important factor to create the required human resources for the project. The cooperation between Egypt and Russia in the training programs is essential, as Russia is the supplier of the plant. Russia can provide the required training material, personnel and equipment and will play a vital role in this issue. ‘
The development of nuclear power in Egypt and Egypt’s cooperation with Russia on the El Dabaa NPP project will also as a matter of course drive the overall educational standards in the country. Dr Hoda Abu Shady, Professor of Nuclear Physics at the Faculty of Science, Cairo University points out that, in order to maintain and further Egypt’s nuclear programme into the future, ‘Most probably we will have to enhance our curriculum of physics and also of basic science and chemistry. This will also boost our sense of security and safety, and [require us] to speak more languages, in order to communicate with the foreign experts.’
These imminent benefits are hard to overlook, and they are already being felt in Egypt as the country edges ever closer towards owning its first nuclear power plant. What’s not in doubt is that the El Dabaa NPP is set to transform not only Egypt’s energy sector but its whole social development – and this transformation is to be welcomed. Dr Hoda Abu Shady says, ‘For me, [the El Dabaa NPP] is a dream come true and it’s also for the society.’
For a living proof of the impact that a newly constructed NPP can have on the region’s development, take the Kudankulam NPP, also built by Rosatom, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Tirunelveli District where the plant is located is home to some 3 million inhabitants and used to be a mostly agrarian economy, with fairly rudimentary infrastructure and limited employment opportunities outside of agriculture, fishing and menial work. The construction of the plant has contributed to the district’s overall development, creating thousands of well-paid jobs, improved housing and additional infrastructure that benefited the local population and its traditional industries.
Dr Abu Shady concludes, ‘Currently there are 30 countries having peaceful nuclear power reactors in operation in the world. With the El Dabaa nuclear project, Egypt will join this developed group. The project and related projects will certainly have an important contribution in improving the economy of the nation and the quality of life of Egyptians’
The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM is one of the global technological leaders. The company has assets and competencies to work at all stages of the nuclear production chain from uranium mining to decommissioning of nuclear facilities and spent nuclear fuel management.ROSATOM brings together about 400 enterprises and organizations, including the world's only nuclear icebreaker fleet. It is the largest electricity generating company in Russia, accounting for 18.7% of the country’s total generation of electricity. ROSATOM is the third in the world in nuclear power generation.The corporation is the global leader in simultaneous implementation of NPP power units and has the largest portfolio of foreign construction projects (36 NPP units in 12 countries). ROSATOM manufactures equipment and produces isotopes for nuclear medicine, carries out research and material studies. It also assembles supercomputers and designs software as well as different nuclear and non-nuclear innovative products. The company has business ventures covering various clean energy projects, including wind energy. ROSATOM has second largest uranium reserves and 17% of the global nuclear fuel market.