News / Africa

South Africa Leads Continent in Nuclear Development

South Africa Leads Continent in Nuclear Developmenti
X
March 27, 2014 8:57 AM
South Africa is Africa’s only nuclear power, and the first nation to have voluntarily relinquished its nuclear weapons. The government then committed to being fully transparent about its nuclear activities, which include research and power generation. From Johannesburg, VOA's Anita Powell looks at what South Africa can teach the continent about nuclear technology.
Anita Powell
South Africa is Africa’s only nuclear power, and the first nation to have voluntarily relinquished its nuclear weapons. The government then committed to being fully transparent about its nuclear activities, which include research and power generation. As other African nations now seek to develop nuclear power, South Africa can provide guidance.
 
South Africa is Africa’s economic powerhouse and home to its only working source of nuclear energy. The government estimates three million South Africans live without power, but the majority of the population has electricity and the government plans to develop more through nuclear energy.
Energy Consumption in South AfricaEnergy Consumption in South Africa
x
Energy Consumption in South Africa
Energy Consumption in South Africa

 
South African energy experts say they can lead the way for the continent.
 
 “South Africa has the requisite expertise to embark on further nuclear programs,” said Diboke Ben Martins, South Africa’s Minister of Energy.
 
“South Africa is involved in nuclear research, nuclear power generation for the last 27 to 30 years. So it is nothing new to us. And currently five percent of our electricity is generated by means of two generators at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, and we also have some nuclear facilities which are used extensively for medical research purposes and also isotopes for medical purposes,” said Wolsey Barnard, who works for the Department of Energy.
 
Physicist Kelvin Kemm said South Africa also has the unique experience of stepping back from the nuclear weapons brink. During the apartheid era, the nation developed six complete atomic weapons.
 
“We became the first ever to declare that we had nuclear weapons and to stop them. To build an effective nuclear weapon, you actually need an enrichment level of about 90 percent or more. For a nuclear reactor you do not need to go anywhere near 20 percent...  A few years ago, we took the decision to downgrade it to 19 and a half percent, very visibly, to bring it under the safe level of 20. So the importance is, are you being safe and open with everybody in the business? Then it should be quite safe,” said Kemm.
 
South African companies say they have the expertise and desire to develop nuclear technology.
 
Construction industry executive Jabulile Tlhako said nuclear energy is the only likely solution to South Africa’s energy challenges. The company she represents, Murray & Roberts, also builds power plants.
 
“Nuclear energy is safe, it is reliable and it is affordable. It is a form of energy that is affordable and its safe and we have to go through that route because now the energy industry is threatened,” said Tlhako.
 
As African cities grow and the continent’s energy needs rise, South Africa saod its nuclear knowledge may be the key to bringing the continent fully into the modern world.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kashiwagi Yukii from: AKB, TKO
March 28, 2014 8:52 PM
Nuclear power plant is one iof the most difficult technologies we have now. To build and to maintain safety, we need not only brand new technologies but also social infrastructure and social understanding.

African countries should invest thier infrastructure and education system at first before considering nuclear.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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 US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
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.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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