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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs