Russia Unveils Plans for Nuclear Education Centre

Russian state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, is assisting Zambia in establishing a nuclear education centre that will enhance inter-university cooperation by training qualified personnel to work in the field of nuclear technology.

The centre that has been sited near the Lusaka international airport in Silver Rest district will host a 10-megawatt water-cooled research reactor equipped with laboratories, functional facilities and complexes providing a whole range of scientific research, training and commercial applications. It will also comprise a multifunctional irradiation centre and nuclear medicine centre based on the cyclotron.

The nuclear centre will allow Zambia to start the development and mastering of nuclear technologies that may be applied in science, education, healthcare, agriculture and industry such as geology and other fields.

Rosatom’s Director of Nuclear Research Reactors, Dmitry Vysotsky, told University World News via email that the centre will not only prepare and train personnel for Zambia’s nuclear programme development, but also for specialists coming from the entire region.

He stated that the centre will be used as a platform for inter-university cooperation and scientific collaboration between local and foreign students and specialists.

“In general, such research centres are open for students from the relevant university faculties specialising in medicine, engineering, physics, geology and other adjacent areas of nuclear technology applications.”

Vysotsky explained that the centre will be different from traditional academic institutions in that it will provide an opportunity for experienced professionals or specialists being trained to gain new skills, obtain an additional or new qualification in areas of their major studies, and foster scientific interest.

In February 2017, Russia and Zambia signed an intergovernmental agreement to jointly build a nuclear science research centre in Zambia, and Russia undertook to assist Zambia with the training of qualified personnel to work in the centre.

Zambian Higher Education Minister, Professor Nkandu Luo, said that the establishment of the centre will increase medical research and deepen knowledge on different sources of energy including nuclear energy.

It is anticipated that with the establishment of the new centre, Zambian citizens will get access to local specialists and won’t have to travel abroad for expensive treatment, which many patients cannot afford.

Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice-president of Rosatom, said as part of the agreement with Zambia, Rosatom will offer a wide range of long-run and short-run training and educational programmes for personnel with various backgrounds and educational levels, which is crucial for the centre’s successful implementation.

He said 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.

The Russian state company also provides foreign students with scholarships to study in Russian universities and to do their internship or on-the-job training at Russian operating nuclear facilities.

Presently, there are over 1,200 foreign students studying at nuclear universities in Russia – 40 of them from Zambia.

Upon signing of the general contract in 2018, the construction of the Zambia-based centre may take up to five to six years.

Vysotsky said the cost of the centre was dependent on its configuration, distribution of laboratories, functional complexes and facilities. But conceptually, the cost centres will be divided into two parts: the first aimed at scientific and educational purposes, and the other at the centre’s commercial applications.

Traditionally, he said, the scientific and educational part was financed completely by the state (Zambian) funds, intended for scientific development, personnel training and enhancement of the on-site and out-site infrastructure.

This article was edited from an original article authored by Tonderayi Mukeredzi.

This article was first published on 15th December, 2017, and was retrieved from


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