Executive Intelligence Review


Russia and China Plan To Help Africa Go Nuclear

Feb. 7, 2019 (EIRNS)—An article by Sebastien Malo for Thomson Reuters Foundation pointed to the increasing demand in Africa to install nuclear power generation. The article, however, did not detail how the African countries are preparing to usher in this high-tech power generation. As of now, South Africa is the only country on the continent operating a nuclear power plant.

Both Russia and China are involved in materializing this African dream, the article said. Ethiopia’s memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation with Russia paves the way for the construction of a nuclear power plant and a research reactor in the long term, said Frehiwot Woldehanna, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Water, Irrigation and Electricity. Like Ethiopia, emerging nuclear states Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia and Ghana have signed agreements with Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom. Chinese state-owned nuclear firms have also taken the lead in the region, sealing deals with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, according to World Nuclear Association data, writes Malo.

Ethiopia has invested heavily in hydropower. Its most ambitious project under construction is the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River that will churn out 6,000 MW at full capacity when completed within the next four years, according to Ethiopian Electric Power, the state-owned utility. But Woldehanna worries about betting on an abundance of water for the country’s main source of electricity, as droughts become more frequent. With rivers sometimes drying up, “you cannot fully rely on hydropower,” said Woldehanna and that nuclear technologies have “environmental” advantages over other power sources. Plans for a nuclear power plant in Ethiopia remain at the “pre-feasibility stage,” but the country is serious about building one, he emphasized.

Sub-Saharan Africa produces only as much electricity as Spain, but has 18 times the population, and with 6 out of 10 people having no access to electricity, nuclear is increasingly attractive. Even among those who have electricity, the frequent power outages make it difficult or impossible to run business or industry. Reuters cites the executive of an Addis Ababa cookie factory who paid out $100,000 for equipment to keep machinery running during blackouts. She said that Ethiopia’s plans to upgrade its power and electricity delivery would mean businesses would have reliable power—and people reliable jobs.