News / Africa

Africa Looks to Nuclear Power to Light Up Continent

Africa Looks to Nuclear Power to Light Up Continenti
X
Anita Powell
March 27, 2014 1:29 PM
At least three African nations are looking to add nuclear power to their grid. Kenya and Nigeria want to establish nuclear energy. South Africa, the only sub-Saharan nation with nuclear facilities, is looking to expand its capabilities. Until now, African nations have relied mostly on hydropower and coal. But those sources have taken a social and environmental tolls. But does Africa have the means to turn on nuclear power? VOA's Anita Powell brings us this report from Johannesburg.
Anita Powell
At least three African nations are looking to add nuclear power to their grid. Kenya and Nigeria want to establish nuclear energy, and South Africa, the only sub-Saharan nation with nuclear facilities, is looking to expand its capabilities. Until now, African nations have relied on age-old forms of energy generation: Hydropower and coal among them. But those sources have taken a social and environmental toll, displacing communities. But does Africa have the means to turn on nuclear power?
 
A NASA space flight over a darkened continent illuminated a fact that many Africans already know. The World Bank says fewer than 10 percent of African households have access to electricity. That, in turn, hampers industry and development on the world's poorest continent.
 
This dire need for power has pushed many African nations to consider nuclear energy - increasingly popular in developing and developed nations such as  the U.S., India and China.
 
Kelvin Kemm, a South African nuclear physicist, said Africa needs to look beyond traditional sources, such as water and hydrocarbons.

"Africa is very largely fueled with hydropower. And in Africa it's possible to have droughts that last a couple of years," he said. "Therefore it's very risky to build an economy on hydropower. Many are not fortunate enough to have coal and gas, and therefore nuclear is an ideal solution for Africa."
 
South Africa is the only African nation to have successfully developed nuclear technology, and gave up its weapons program in the 1990s. Today, the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station produces about 5 percent of the nation's electricity.

President Jacob Zuma said he wants more nuclear power to decrease the nation's reliance on coal.
 
"We expect to conclude the procurement of 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy," he said.

Kenya and Nigeria say they too are building their nuclear programs to meet rising electricity needs from their burgeoning populations.  
 
According to Kemm, the power needs in Africa are so dire that ordinary power sources can't meet demand the way nuclear power can.
 
"They need to double  electricity consumption immediately, and then double it again, and again and again for their people," he said.

Critics of nuclear energy say it is not entirely safe, citing nuclear disasters like Fukushima in Japan and Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.

But those critics' fears about Africa getting nuclear power may be drowned out by the almighty market.
 
France-based Vincent Industrie sells complicated components that are necessary to make a nuclear plant run. But sales manager Frederic Marrone, noted that you don't need to be a nuclear physicist to see why many impoverished African nations are slow to implement nuclear technology.
 
The problem, he said, is cost.
 
"We speak about Billions," he explained. "How much, I don't know, depending on the size, but just for us, equipment, we provide only equipment. For this, we speak about five million euros of equipment to manufacture only one part."

Experts say it will be years, even decades, before Africa finds a way to address its energy needs, with nuclear energy or otherwise.
 
But everyone agrees that more power is needed to bring Africa into the light.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Aminu Wouba from: Cameroon
March 31, 2014 9:18 PM
This should not be a program for individual states to follow. The African Union has to implement an energy program for the continent,financed and supported by the African governments through partnerships with each other.A good example is the DRC/SA collaboration on the Grand Inga in the DRC.But this should be an AU led and harmonised process .The Inga dams are capable of electrifying Africa even by hydropower.
Aminu

by: Radio Kakata USA from: Washington DC
March 28, 2014 9:02 PM
Africa should invest in clean energy from the SUN solar and WIND. We have enough problem as it is then to start worrying about nuclear waste and the rest that comes with it. Lets put the money for Nuclear energy into Health care and education.

by: Kai from: US
March 27, 2014 9:30 PM
Any one involved in energy policy should be required to scroll through the headlines at ENENEWS to learn what happens when nuclear energy goes wrong.

Very eye-opening!



by: Ian from: Ritchie
March 27, 2014 12:51 PM
This article seems to have been written by a reporter who knows nothing whatsoever about electricity and power in Africa. Everyone who has been observing the African scene in regards to electricity production has known that photovoltaic solar is the cheapest and quickest way to electrify the vast regions of Africa without regular electricity supply. Those who crunch numbers have known this for a long time. In fact, even back in the 1960s when photovoltaic solar was still very new and very expensive, it was cheaper even then to electrify an African village hundreds of miles from the nearest grid with photovoltaic solar because of the immense cost of high tension lines over hundreds of miles.

Today solar panels produce at $0.40 per watt, as opposed to $4.00 per watt just ten years ago. It is the only source of energy that has consistently come down in price every singly year from 1970 up to the present. Nuclear, by contrast, has gone up in price every year since that date, and nuclear projects have never come in on time or on budget. It is absolute foully to propose nuclear as a solution in Africa. Since the article says nothing about the new solar initiatives actually funded by the Kenyan government, who now recognize the solar advantage, I can only conclude the above article was written by someone handpicked by the nuclear industry solely because they had no knowledge of their topic whatsoever.
In Response

by: Chibikom, Inc. from: Bamenda, Cameroon
March 27, 2014 3:09 PM
Definitely, safety concerns mean we should look at alternatives. I would like those countries to learn from the mistakes of others & develop sound nuclear plants that can stand the test of security, safety, and quality.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More