For several years, starting in 2015, Rosatom has been hosting the “Atoms Empowering Africa” online competition to engage talented African youth, encouraging their interest in nuclear technology studies and promoting science and engineering. To participate in the contest, entrants create and share videos on Facebook. An expert committee comprising representatives from nuclear companies and media professionals selects the most intriguing and innovative submissions.
In 2021, several video creators were chosen to embark on a fully funded tourist journey to Russia as a reward from the competition organisers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners had to wait for two years before finally able to attend the trip. The wait was worth it, and the recipients now stand as rightful owners of their well-earned rewards.
The competition victors had the privilege of immersing themselves in Russia’s nuclear infrastructure. They visited the Museum “Grand Maket”, where they encountered the cutting-edge nuclear icebreaker “Arctic” and with a Generation 3+ power unit featuring the VVER-1200 reactor. This reactor boasts exceptional safety during operation, the capability to function without human intervention, and even the ability to operate without external power supply.
Beyond museum exhibits, the guests gained rare access to Russia’s largest operational nuclear power plant, the Leningrad NPP, situated in Sosnovy Bor. Typically restricted to foreign visitors, the LNPP welcomed the “Atoms Empowering Africa” winners, offering them a glimpse into its intricate infrastructure, including the turbine room, cooling towers, and splash pools. Most notably, these African visitors experienced a sense of working at the plant through a training session on a simulator.
Alexander Belyaev, Chief Engineer of LNPP-2, expressed the importance of African youth showing interest in Russian nuclear technologies: “It’s significant that the young generation from African countries exhibits interest in Russian nuclear technologies. This visit could potentially mark the start of their careers in the nuclear industry, offering Africa promising pathways toward energy independence”.
The tour participants were delighted by their visit to the nuclear power plant. Emmanuel Adom, one of the trip’s participants and teaching assistant at the University for Development Studies, exclaimed, “The NPP is the most astounding place I’ve visited in St. Petersburg. It showcases machinery I’ve never seen before, from the reactor to the cooling systems and turbine. Witnessing an NPP firsthand feels incredible and awe-inspiring. Knowing it contributes about 30% northwestern region of Russia’s electricity supply and 55% of Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region is mind-boggling. I’d love to return to this place again and again”.
Similar to many tourists, the guests explored St. Petersburg’s renowned landmarks, including the Peter and Paul Fortress with its noon cannon shot, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Hermitage, and Peterhof. They also experienced the city from the water during a cruise along its rivers and canals. The participants particularly enjoyed Russian cuisine at local restaurants and indulged in shopping at nearby centers.
Munachimso Oguine, one of the tour members and student at National Open University of Nigeria, shared her impressions: “St. Petersburg is an unforgettable experience. Known as the City of Palaces, it boasts over 100 or 200 palaces. We had the privilege to visit iconic places like the Winter Palace and the Summer Palace. The people in Russia are remarkable. Even if they don’t speak English, they go out of their way to assist, often using sign language. They are kind, helpful, and open-minded. I’m eager to return.”