South Africa unveils cooperation plans

03 October 2014

South Africa intends to sign agreements with French and Chinese reactor vendors, following on from its recent intergovernmental nuclear partnership agreement with Russia. Meanwhile President Jacob Zuma has publicly refuted media allegations over his involvement with the Russian agreement.

A statement issued by the country's Department of Energy underlines South Africa's commitment to add an additional 9.6 GWe of nuclear energy and reaffirms the government's commitment to undertake the nuclear new build program "in a fair, competitive and cost effective manner". The ministry also reiterated its intention to sign further intergovernmental agreements with various reactor vendors.

Xolisa Mabhongo of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) told World Nuclear News that those agreements will be with France and China. The agreement with France is expected to be signed during October, he said, while the likely timeframe for the signature of an agreement with China has not yet been confirmed.

The statements follow the signing in September of an intergovernmental agreement between South Africa and Russia's Rosatom based on the construction of Russian VVER reactors in South Africa. That agreement, signed by energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, prompted some consternation in South African circles, with opposition party the Democratic Alliance voicing "serious concerns" about the agreement and calling for its urgent review by a parliamentary committee.

Today, South African President Jacob Zuma released a statement regarding media allegations of presidential impropriety. "Media reports that President Jacob Zuma has negotiated or will negotiate and conclude nuclear power agreements alone are incorrect. The President works with the cabinet on the matter," it said. "There is nothing untoward with regards to the country’s nuclear energy program."

In its statement, the Department of Energy said that such intergovernmental agreements set out "potential frameworks of cooperation" and mark the preparatory stage for the procurement process. While promising that "no information of relevance to the public will be withheld from the South African population," the ministry notes that as the agreements may contain proprietary information it would not be "prudent" to provide details of their contents before agreements had been signed with all the vendor countries.

"South Africa remains committed to the use of nuclear power because it is safe, environmentally friendly, and sustainable in the long run. Government stresses that our new nuclear build program is also about revitalising the local nuclear industry so that we can actively participate in the global supply chain as an exporter of nuclear services and components," the ministerial statement concluded.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News