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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs