7 African countries eyeing to generate nuclear energy soon
At least seven African countries are at various stages – commissioning, shopping for vendors and mapping appropriate sites - in the roll-out of nuclear power plants, as a majority eye 2030 as a start-date for generating electricity from nuclear energy.
Egypt is currently the only country to have begun construction, following the formal launch of a site in July. The US$25 billion project, being developed by Russian state energy corporation Rosatom, will have total installed capacity of 4.8 gigawatts (GW) made up of four, 1,200 megawatt reactors, when complete.
“Egypt has joined the nuclear club. The plant will be the largest project of the Russian-Egyptian cooperation since the Aswan High Dam. Having its own nuclear energy industry has been a dream for the Egyptian people for more than half-a-century,” said Rosatom Director-General Alexey Likhachov, during the launch.
Kenya is also inching closer to the development stage, after identifying two coastal sites - Kilifi and Kwale counties – earlier in the year, to put up the country’s first nuclear power generator.
The country’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) has estimated the project would cost about US$50 million, with construction works planned for 2030, a test run four years later and full operations projected for 2036.
Uganda is considering three sites – on the Kyoga, Kagera and Aswa rivers - for the construction of two 1,000 megawatt reactors, by 2031. This follows agreements reached by the country’s Ministry of Energy with Russian and Chinese investors.
Last month, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni requested of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia help the country build East Africa’s first nuclear power plant. In May, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave Uganda the green light to start building and production of nuclear power.
After a false start, Nigeria is starting all over again. Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency opened bidding for construction of a 4 gigawatt nuclear plant in March, 2022 - and the country is reportedly betting on the four-reactor power plant with an equivalent of a third of the country’s total installed capacity, to address power outages.
After the discovery of uranium deposits four years ago, Tanzania is looking to help from Rosatom and its subsidy Uranium One, which has a license to mine uranium in the Mkuju River within the Selous Game Reserve, to build a research reactor and subsequently set up a commercial nuclear plant.
In June, Morocco advanced its plans for nuclear energy after the release of a report that gives its legislators recommendations for making a switch to renewable energy sources.
Rwanda is also making significant strides after signing a deal with Rosatom to build a center of nuclear science and technologies, in October 2019.
South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power station - owned and operated by state-run power utility Eskom - is the only nuclear power plant on the continent. It has an installed capacity of 1,940 megawatts.
As more countries push on with the switch to low carbon electricity, South Africa has been eyeing an additional 10,000 megawatt in nuclear power capacity. However, there has been widespread opposition by an anti-nuclear lobby.