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African countries being conned into nuclear debt, by Russia

African countries rush to sign nuclear deals with Russia, Daily Maverick By Peter Fabricius• 29 October 2019

But concerns are being raised about whether they can all afford nuclear energy.

The Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with about 18 African counties, as Russia accelerates its drive for nuclear business on the continent.

The growing commitment of African countries to high capital cost nuclear energy has raised some concern about whether they are committing themselves to unaffordable debt.

Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev revealed a large number of nuclear agreements with African countries after signing an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology, Getahun Mekuria Kuma, during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on the Black Sea last week.

Mekuria later told the Russian official news agency Tass that Ethiopia had plants to build a nuclear power plant.

Rosatom later also signed an agreement with Rwanda at the summit on cooperation for the construction of a centre of nuclear science and technology in Rwanda. Rosatom had a strong presence at the economic forum which paralleled the political summit. The Rosatom stand attracted scores of interested African government officials on the sidelines of the forum. …..

Likhachev told journalists after the discussion that Rosatom had now signed memoranda of understanding or intergovernmental agreements with about one-third of countries on the continent – about 18. He could not say how many of these were about scientific cooperation and how many were about producing nuclear energy “because very often those two tracks go hand in hand”.

But he did say in the discussion that about half of the African countries with which Rosatom had signed nuclear agreements were actively discussing joint projects with the corporation, which had been stipulated in contracts. The most advanced joint project is with Egypt, which has contracted Rosatom to build a 4,800MW nuclear power plant……

“We are ready to propose to Ethiopia cutting-edge solutions of nuclear technology. And our Ethiopian partners are invited to visit nuclear facilities in our country.

“Apart from larger capacity nuclear power plants, we also stand ready to offer smaller capacity, modular reactors.”

……..However, the apparent rush to nuclear energy by African countries has raised some concerns that they may be committing themselves to high capital costs of nuclear power production which they will be unable to afford.

Analysts have noted that even South Africa, one of the top two economies on the continent, backed away from an apparent commitment by former president Jacob Zuma to order 9,600MW of nuclear power plant production from Rosatom – at an estimated cost of about R1-trillion.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said after meeting Putin on the sidelines of the summit that the Russian president had once again asked him if South Africa was still interested in building a nuclear power plant and he had told him once again that it still could not afford to.

An African minister at the summit told Daily Maverick that although power plants could be an important source of economic growth, African countries were sinking further into debt and had to be careful to ensure they could afford the infrastructure they built.

Likhachev defended nuclear energy as an economical source of electricity over the long term. ……….

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwandan minister in charge of the East African community  would not be drawn on the cost and affordability implications, saying the details of the agreement would be announced in due course. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-10-29-african-countries-rush-to-sign-nuclear-deals-with-russia/

October 31, 2019 - Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, politics international, Russia

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