JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa signed a $10 billion nuclear power cooperation deal with Russia on Monday that paves the way for the building of up to 9.6 GW of nuclear power based on Russian technology by 2030, both sides said.
The surprise announcement from the sidelines of a International Atomic Energy conference in Vienna suggests Pretoria is moving ahead with its plans for nuclear power, despite concerns over funding.
“This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration,” South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in the statement.
Rosatom director-general Sergey Kirienko said the deal for up to 8 nuclear power units could create thousands of jobs and create orders worth $10 billion to “local industrial enterprises”, although it was not clear if he was referring to Russia or South Africa.
In a national energy assessment in December, South Africa said it might delay the construction of nuclear power plants and focus instead on coal, hydro and gas as alternative energy sources.
Africa’s most advanced economy is struggling to keep the lights on due to its failure to invest in new power plants nearly two decades ago.
It is home to one nuclear power station that provides around five per cent of the country’s 42,000 MW of installed generating capacity.