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Is nuclear power REALLY a clean-power fix for Africa – as Russia and China push it

Russia, China back nuclear as a clean-power fix for Africa

Money Web , Sebastien Malo, Thomson Reuters Foundation  /  10 February 2019  “…….For now, South Africa is the only country on the continent operating a nuclear power plant.

But in recent years, at least seven other sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia, according to public announcements and the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an industry body………

Like Ethiopia, emerging nuclear states Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia and Ghana have signed agreements with Russia’s state nuclear corporation, ROSATOM – most since 2016.

Their content ranges from language on the construction of nuclear reactors to assistance with feasibility studies and personnel training, press statements show.

ROSATOM’s solutions for managing spent fuel and radioactive waste vary from country to country, but are normally worked out at the later stages of a nuclear new-build programme “in the strictest compliance with international law”, a spokeswoman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Chinese state-owned nuclear firms have also taken the lead in the region, sealing deals with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, WNA data shows.

South African student Masamaki Masanja, 23, won a ROSATOM competition for young people to make videos about Africa’s nuclear potential, and got to visit the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in western Russia in 2017.

“It was mind-blowing,” said the second-year mechanical engineering student, via Skype.

The experience left him with a strong sense that nuclear power should be adapted quickly for Africa’s needs………

Rebel risk

Some political observers, however, are concerned about the prospect of nuclear reactors backed by Russia in some countries with rebel groups and weak government institutions.

An Africa-based Western diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, doubted Russia’s assurances it would collect nuclear waste from projects it helped establish.

“You could end up with very unfortunate situations in parts of Africa … if you have a decaying nuclear power plant overrun by rebels, with waste that’s not going away,” he said.

Multiple requests for an interview with Russia’s ambassador in Ethiopia were declined.

So-called dirty bombs can combine conventional explosives like dynamite with radioactive material such as nuclear waste. ………

It could take 20 years for Ethiopia to build a nuclear power plant, estimated Hong-Jun Ahn, a Korean electrical engineer who advises the Ethiopian government on its nuclear plans.

Yonas Gebru, director of Addis Ababa-based advocacy group Forum for Environment, said green activists could prove another hurdle amid debate over whether nuclear power is “clean” energy.

“It would be good, and it would be wise also … to better capitalise on already started initiatives such as hydropower, wind energy (and) solar energy,” said Gebru. https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/africa/russia-china-back-nuclear-as-a-clean-power-fix-for-africa/

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February 12, 2019 - Posted by | AFRICA, China, marketing, Russia

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