News / Africa

    Africa's Uranium Weighs on World's Geopolitics

    Nico Colombant
    Africa’s uranium which is becoming increasingly popular for new nuclear projects is also causing geopolitical concerns, from instability in the continent’s western Sahel region to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    While the north of Mali is still overrun by Tuareg rebels and Islamic extremists, analysts say companies and governments dealing with West African uranium are becoming increasingly nervous.

    Nearby Niger, which has had its own troubled history with extremist Islamic groups and Tuareg fighters, is among the world’s top five uranium producers. But Tuareg leaders there have often been angry for not getting enough benefits from the mining in areas where they live.

    In troubled Mali, where the situation was complicated by a March military coup in the capital Bamako, there is currently uranium prospecting by Canadian and Chinese companies.

    Alessandro Bruno is a Canadian-based senior editor with Pro-Edge Consultants and one of their websites called the Uranium Blog. The uranium expert would not be surprised by firm international action to try and normalize the situation in Mali.

    “The revolt that has taken place can easily spread to Niger. Sooner or later I think we will see some kind of action because the northern revolt right now is quite destabilizing for the region, and not just for Mali,” Bruno said.

    He says he believes the U.S. government as well as former colonial power France will likely be sending more military equipment and provide more training to the armies of Niger and Mali, which they already help.

    Another country which he says is very interested in obtaining West African uranium for future nuclear power plants is Saudi Arabia, which could also intervene.

    According to Bruno, one country which has shown interest but has been rebuffed in West Africa is Iran.  But he says Iranian officials have been trying to get uranium from other African countries, including Zimbabwe and the poorly governed Democratic Republic of Congo.

    “Central government (in the DRC) does not have much control. Some governments or companies can manage to get some minerals without formal controls and sometimes there is smuggling. I am not saying there is smuggling of uranium but there is a possibility.  Zimbabwe seems as far as governments are concerned the one that would be the most likely to work direct, government to government, with Iran. They are both facing sanctions. They have nothing to lose,” Bruno said.

    Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes, but the United States and several allies suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

    Other sub-Saharan African countries which produce uranium in sizeable quantities are Namibia and South Africa.

    University of Michigan professor Gabrielle Hecht is the author of a book published this year called “Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.”

    She says the importance of Africa’s uranium in current geopolitical and even world economic discussions should not be underestimated.

    “We are not talking about a small amount of uranium here. We are talking these days of a good 20 to 25 percent of the world’s uranium, that is coming or will shortly come from Africa. So our electric bills are much more tightly connected to African sources than people might initially realize,” Hecht said.

    One crucial change she would like to see in Africa’s uranium sector is independent regulation, so that the industry becomes safer, less corrupt and prone to suspect deals, even if that would mean higher electricity prices for all.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora