Costly nu­clear pro­ject switched off or not?

The Sunday Independent - - Politics - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

SOUTH AFRICA’S de­ci­sion on the nu­clear pro­gramme is likely to be clar­i­fied in the next two weeks when Min­is­ter of En­ergy Jeff Radebe briefs Par­lia­ment on whether it’s of­fi­cially off the ta­ble or not.

Port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on en­ergy chair­per­son Fik­ile Ma­jola said yesterday Radebe would ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee in the week of April 17 to talk about in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers (IPP), the nu­clear en­ergy pro­gramme and the sale of the coun­try’s oil re­serves.

Ma­jola said he did not know if a def­i­nite de­ci­sion had been made to scrap the nu­clear pro­gramme, but Radebe would shed light on this then.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said in Davos, Switzer­land, in Jan­uary the pro­gramme was off the ta­ble.

This was fol­lowed by state­ments from for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba and his suc­ces­sor Nh­lanhla Nene to the ef­fect that the nu­clear pro­ject was un­af­ford­able.

But Ma­jola said he was not aware that nu­clear en­ergy was off the ta­ble.

“The com­mit­tee is not aware of what is go­ing to hap­pen be­sides what the pres­i­dent has said.”

The gov­ern­ment signed sev­eral agree­ments this week with the IPPs amount­ing to R55.6 bil­lion. But this elicited an an­gry re­sponse from the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers and Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa.

When the mat­ter was in the High Court in the Western Cape, Radebe said there would not be any nu­clear deal un­til the mat­ter had been brought be­fore Par­lia­ment.

How­ever, Ramaphosa has said it was off the ta­ble and did not even men­tion it in his State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.

Rus­sian en­ergy firm Rosatom told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia re­cently it was still bid­ding for nu­clear con­tracts and had not heard any­thing from the gov­ern­ment.

Rosatom has signed mul­ti­ple agree­ments in Africa to de­liver nu­clear en­ergy. In Egypt the Rus­sians bagged a nu­clear deal worth $30 bil­lion (R360 bil­lion), with $25bn of it to be ven­dor fi­nanc­ing.

This week, Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was in Tur­key to sign an­other nu­clear deal.

The Rus­sians are to build a nu­clear plant on the coast of Tur­key. This fol­lowed an agree­ment signed a few years ago.

Head of Rosatom in south­ern Africa Vik­tor Po­likar­pov said re­cently the com­pany was in Ghana and was mov­ing into East Africa.

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