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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid