Friday, April 12, 2024

Future Zambian Nuclear Scientists on what they learned in Russia


Zambian nuclear science students in the lab in Russia.

Zambian students are training to be the next generation of nuclear scientists, thanks to the country’s close ties with Russia. There are over 1,200 foreign students studying at nuclear universities in Russia and among them are 40 of the finest minds from Zambia.
Last year, the government in Lusaka and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom signed several agreements for developing nuclear technology in Zambia. The plan will see the two countries set up regulatory bodies and an atomic research centre in the capital, followed by the construction of Zambia’s first nuclear power plant.
Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo mentioned that the first Zambian nuclear power plant will be critical to ensuring sufficient supply of electricity to power the economy for decades. She said the government working with the Russian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency are partnering in the nuclear science programme.
The project also includes training Zambians in atomic science and engineering, spearheaded by Rosatom. “As part of the agreement with Zambia, Rosatom will offer a wide range of long-term and short-term training and educational programmes for personnel with various backgrounds and educational levels, which are crucial for the centre’s successful implementation and nuclear power plant operation,” said Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom regional vice-president, of Central and Southern Africa.
“Since 2010, Rosatom has been running a global project to train staff for partner countries aimed at creating an integrated system for training qualified specialists for the nuclear power industry. We provide scholarships to foreign students to study, intern and/or participate in on-the-job training in Russia. The training that the students go through equips them with the sufficient skills and knowledge to operate nuclear plants or participate in and eventually take over atomic research in their home countries”.
The 40 Zambians chosen will be part of the first team of scientists, assisted by Russian experts, to work at first Zambian nuclear facilities. Mabvuto Banda, studying for bachelor’s degree at the nuclear power engineering and thermal physics department of the Russian Nuclear Research University MEPhI, says: “Zambia, along with many other countries in Africa, have in recent years suffered the harsh consequences of their overdependence on hydropower when much of the southern parts of the continent experienced unexpected droughts and erratic rainfall”.
He added: “The flaw in our country’s power generation strategy was made abundantly clear by the partial drought of the 2014/2015 rain season that caused water levels in our reservoirs to drop to record lows, leading to power rationing lasting for as long as 16 hours each day in some areas. We could have avoided this had we invested in sources of energy less reliant on weather patterns. However, it is gratifying to see that as a country, we have learned our lesson and are actively seeking new ways to generate electricity – nuclear energy being one of them.”
By comparison, nuclear energy is one of the most efficient forms of energy in use today according to Richard Vlahakis, another beneficiary of the Rosatom/Zambia scholarship programme.
He said: “One atom in a nuclear reaction produces approximately 10 million times more energy than burning one atom of a fossil fuel like diesel or coal. Unlike hydropower, wind and solar energy, nuclear reactors are not dependent on weather patterns making them the more reliable option in the long run”.
“Atomic energy also has a very low carbon footprint. Looking at Zambia’s rising demand for energy on its quest for accelerated growth, a source of energy as efficient, clean and reliable as this is vital to the country’s economic development.”
Machona Mbahwe, another nuclear power student, said: “I would like to see a situation where Zambia no longer has a power deficit. With nuclear technology, we could potentially see a time when every community, rural or urban, has access to affordable and reliable power supply. I certainly hope I can contribute to achieving this once I graduate.”
Mr. Polikarpov concluded: “These students are the future and soon it will be their job to use science and their specialized skills gained to improve their home country and the world at large. I hope that they will take advantage of this unique learning experience from Russia’s cutting-edge universities to acquire the skills necessary to lead their country forward.”
Russia has committed to further increase its cooperation with Zambia in the education sector by increasing scholarships for local students wanting to study abroad.

Zambian nuclear science students in Russia.


  1. There are many more who could have been as happy as you are given the chance but because of limitation (Ts and Cs) you scooped the occasion and thank God for that. Back home we have MPs who also were given the opportunity by the voters to serve but end up just attending and looking forward to knocking off as can be evidenced by their playful attitude when they are in the house. When you finally come back, we want you guys to compete with purpose so that the industry you shall be under can grow to greater heights.

    • Let’s roll … you won’t find the usual naysayers on this one because they are ill-equipped to handle such.

      40 of some of the smartest kids … all of them “Made in Zambia”.

      Let’s get this thing done …

  2. All very well to have sent these young men and women to study nuclear science, but truth be told this is not a priority field for Zambia. We are getting ahead of ourselves, these scientist can work anywhere in the world as a useful human capital but we could have done well to send them to study more needy fields as specialisation in medicine or agriculture. Zambia should be concentrating on hydro power generation for which potential the country has in abundance. It cleaner, less risky and versatile as dammed water is a resource that can be used as a clean water source, tourism ventures and irrigation for food production. Shelf this ill – advised programme for now. Lets learn to crawl before we can run!!!

    • Lets be practical, it’s true the benefits will accrue in the long-term(may be 20 years) but we can’t shelf this well-intended prospect. Lets run it side-by-side with other sources given that its benefits far outweigh its disadvantages. Even if we give it the least attention now, lets not abandon it.

    • @fly on the wall, how is this not “a priority field for now” for Zambia when CLIMATE CHANGE is breathing down our necks as we speak? Do you really want to wait until it’s here and our rivers and dams are empty and can no longer support our hydro power stations?

      I think Govt is doing the right thing to start thinking about this and investmenting in this technology now than waiting until it is too late. This what is called GOOD PLANNING and FORESUGHT. South Africa (Capetown in particular) is already in trouble with water supply (dams have already run dry,) so don’t think Zambia will be spared from this. Soon this phenomenon will be at Zambia’s door steeps, we better start preparing now or else!

    • But no one can accuse Rusia of not knowing what the heck they are doing when it comes to nuclear technology, right? I don’t think even yourself truly believe that Medical Nuclear technology designed by Rusians are inferior or don’t work. So I don’t see the connection you are trying to make between nuclear technology/science and being a doctor who may need or require the use of some medical equipment/medicine designed to work with low grade nuclear isotopes….. what’s the connection?

  3. Finest minds in Zambia? Yama,pipo have different taste. Those 40 pipo choose to study that program coz that’s what they wanted, doesn’t mean the rest are less off. Dull journalist, why didn’t you study nuclear physics yourself? Trying to come out sharp manje

  4. indeed SHAME to be in RUSSIA , They hate blacks with a passion , skin heads kill blacks, blacks have no chance to assmble or maintain those machines theirs is just to observe , russia lecturer cares not to a black the list is endless Please Luo consider sending them to China though riding on their MOU for ka funding

    • Boza iwe, Russia (aka the Soviet Union) has been selling their technology, mostly in form of military equipment to Africa and beyond for decades, and Africans, Zambians included, have studied in Russia ever since to master their technology within any problems at all. Racists and xenophobes are found in every Country on Earth, even in Zambia. That can’t be the reason you don’t send your younger generation in the Country to out their and aquire knowledge and know-how.

      Send them to China, Japan, India, even America, Britain Canada, extra, it not guaranteed that they will not come across some ignorant I’d!it who will look at them as LESS THAN. If you think that then you need to travel wider or educate yourself more.


  6. Guys watch out. Many countries are thinking twice about putting up nuclear plants in their countries. How many nuclear plants are operational in Germany, the UK? Why has South Africa abandoned its nuclear project with all the problems of power? The nuclear plant requires plenty of water to cool it and what we are seeing in South Africa will soon be here in Zambia ..water shortage. The plant requires to be operated as per design, how many lifts are working in Zambia as per design if at all they are working ..Ndola Central hospital, FINDECO, Lusaka post office.?? I am not doubting the information the lads will have but the commitment of our government to ensure the facility runs as per design. as soon as the budget is than it will be cut and disaster will be looming. Let us have it…

  7. installed in eastern province as a project and see how it works instead of putting it in lusaka where the radiation will spread to all corners of zambia in the event of failure

  8. Jealous,jealous guys, stop it. My son is one of those students doing that course. He is just a simple guy from a poor background. And he is from one of the shanty towns in Lusaka, l his dad is a simple fisherman. Now the reason why he was chosen was that he is intelligent, smart and has got the brains. Now for you guys to start writing negative things against your fellow zambians, it’s not fair. Try to write positive things at times. Anyway l know that some of you guys are experts at writing negative things against your fellow zambians cos your brains are also negative so whom am l to blame you.

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