South Africa in '$50 bn deal' for Russian nuclear reactors

By AFP
By AFP

9/22/2014 8:30:02 PM -

Moscow (AFP) - Russia's atomic energy agency said Monday it will provide up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa by 2023 in a $50 billion strategic partnership between the two countries.

The delivery of the reactors will enable the foundation of the first nuclear power plant based on Russian technology on the African continent, the Rosatom agency said in a statement.

Director general Sergey Kirienko estimated the value of the deal at between $40 to $50 billion, given that one reactor costs around $5 billion, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

The inter-governmental agreement, signed in Vienna on the margins of the International Atomic Energy Agency conference, also calls for Russia to help build infrastructure in South Africa and train African specialists at Russian universities.

Rosatom will create thousands of jobs in South Africa as part of the deal which will be worth "at least 10 billion dollars" to local industry, Kirienko said in a statement.

South Africa's Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said her country sees nuclear power as "an important driver for the national economic growth".

"I am sure that co-operation with Russia will allow us to implement our ambitious plans for the creation by 2030 of 9.6 GW of new nuclear capacities based on modern and safe technologies,” she said in a statement.

South Africa, the continent's most industrialised nation, currently has only one nuclear power plant. It is heavily dependent on coal for its energy supply and its electricity capacity is already near the maximum.

Pretoria had announced at the end of last year that it was going to have up to eight new nuclear reactors online between 2023 and 2035, along with other energy sources including shale gas and hydroelectric power from the future Inga III dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa's nuclear power ambitions had attracted several proposals.

French group Areva which built South Africa's only nuclear plant at Koeberg had proposed to provide the country with its new generation of EPR reactors.

Pretoria had also solicited an offer from the US-Japanese group Westinghouse.

The new Russian reactors from Rosatom are expected to go online in 2023.