Africa’s nuclear boom


Nuclear power is set to become part of the energy mix in Sub-Saharan Africa as base load demand rises.

According to Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice president in Sub-Saharan Africa for Rosatom, about 600 million people do not have access to power out of an 800 million population.

“The total energy capacity of sub-Saharan [Africa] is about 28 gigawatts which is the equivalent of just one country like Argentina,” he said.

Over the last 13 years, the GDP of countries in the region have doubled which has led to a huge demand of power today. Polikarpov explained that more African countries are following the global trend and welcoming nuclear energy as a reality.

“Today 60 per cent of the population are living in countries with nuclear power. By the end of 2035 about 71 per cent of the global population will be having nuclear power plants,” said Polikarpov.

Introducing nuclear energy into Africa has not been without its challenges. Polikarpov said that the environment has not been “friendly” because people are bias.

“We need to demystify nuclear and bring a lot of public awareness,” he acknowledged.

The resistance comes from the failed Fukushima project, which he said “tarnished” the brand of nuclear power.

However, he said to counter the negative perception it is important that people know that “not a single person died from the Fukushima [project]… because the technology today is very safe”.

In response to shale gas being one of the biggest competitors of nuclear, Polikarpov said, “The extraction of shale gas is extremely dangerous and environmentally unfriendly compared to nuclear.”

The Russian state nuclear energy corporation was allegedly in a strategic partnership with South Africa worth $50 billion.