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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs