The nuclear option
The only operational, commercial nuclear power plant on the continent is the 1.8 GW Koeberg facility in South Africa, which produces an average of 12.9 TWh a year, which is equivalent to 5.2% of total South African power production.
The government of South Africa hopes to greatly increase national nuclear and renewable energy generating capacity in order to reduce the country’s reliance on coal. However, it is proving difficult to secure the required investment for the construction of new reactors that would take at least a decade to come on stream.
A tender for the contract to construct the first new plant yielded bids from Areva and Westinghouse in 2008 but the lack of funding prompted Eskom to cancel the scheme.
At the end of 2013, South African and Russian state-owned companies signed a deal that would see Russian firms build new South African reactors with a high proportion of South African content.
A spokesperson for Rosatom stated: “A small-scale analysis says that implementation of a NPP [nuclear power plant] construction project will allow placing 40% up to 60% of equipment orders with South African companies, and this will give not less than $16bn at the stage of construction only, $40bn at the stage of operation; 15,000 up to 30,000 high skilled, high-salaried jobs will be created. In the framework of our partnership we will be happy to invite South African companies to the third country markets.”
Other African countries, such as Nigeria and Egypt, have proposed the construction of their own nuclear power plants but there is little prospect of any new African members of the nuclear club in the near future.