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Russia’s Growing Involvement in African Nuclear Development

Oct. 21, 2019 (EIRNS)—One of the questions of the Oct. 23-24 Russia-Africa Economic Forum is the need for Africa to develop civilian nuclear power. Russia is at the front end of the strategy to equip Africa with nuclear power, reports Sébastien Périmony, French Schiller Institute expert on Africa, in his French blog “See Africa with the Eyes of the Future.”

Vanand Meliksetian, an adviser to the Netherlands on energy and a contributor to OilPrice.com, underlined Russia’s growing interest in that direction in a May 15 article:

“Russia’s energy industry, in comparison, is booming. Its state-run nuclear energy company Rosatom has an order book of 34 reactors in 12 countries worth $300 billion. Recently, Moscow has set its eyes on Africa where most states have either already struck a deal with the Kremlin or are considering one....

“The Russian deal is particularly appealing to countries lacking nuclear know-how due to Moscow’s comprehensive offer regarding financing, construction, and operation of the facilities. Currently, Rosatom is experimenting with a contract known as ‘build-own-operate’ under which ownership of the plant remains in Russian hands while energy is sold to the host country. This new type of contract is appealing to several African states who lack the means to finance construction. In some instances, the mineral resources of host countries could function as a deposit for any liability comparable to Moscow’s ‘arms-for-platinum’ deal with Zimbabwe worth $3 billion.”

The stark reality is that Africa is in dire need of energy: 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa produce as much energy as the single country of Spain produces in Europe. That means that every other African has no access to electricity. According to the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017, only five African countries have 100% electrification, all of them in North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. South Africa follows immediately after, with a rate of 85.40%. Then come Ghana, 64.06%; Senegal, 56.50%; Ivory Coast, 55.80; and Nigeria, 55.60%. Some francophone countries: World Bank Reports gives access to electricity as 16% for Niger, 9% for Chad, 14% for the Central African Republic, and 20% for Burkina Fasso.

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