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

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora