Politics / 12 July 2015, 07:00am / Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Johannesburg - Rosatom, Russia’s state energy company, appears to be the front-runner for the choice of building 9 600 megawatts of nuclear power plants, and the company will this week put its case forward during the energy summit in Cape Town.
But President Jacob Zuma’s signing of the energy pact with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the south-eastern city of Ufa this week seemed to fuel speculation of a “done deal” between South Africa and Russia.
Rosatom’s participation in the three-day energy summit in Cape Town will be closely watched as the Russian energy firm will also have to put paid to speculation that it has already been selected to build the nuclear power plants.
The company has made no bones about the fact it is one of the bidding companies in the R1 trillion tender to build six to eight nuclear power plants.
The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation’s participation in the energy summit will pit it against industry experts, academics and top administrators.
Rosatom, which made headlines in September last year after it publicly said it has been selected to build nuclear power plants, has denied being given the job, but made no bones about its ambition to build the reactors in South Africa.
The Russian energy firm will be joined at the Cape Town energy summit, starting on Wednesday until Friday, by chief executives from various companies, industry players and other stakeholders.
During his trip to Russia this week to attend the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Ufa, Zuma signed the energy pact with Putin.
This intensified speculation that the Russians have already been selected.
But this has been denied by government sources.
Part of the pact is on the training of specialists on nuclear work in Russia.
It has been reported that other companies interested in the nuclear build programme are China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, US-based Westinghouse Electric and Korea Electric Power.
But Rosatom appears to be holding the aces. When it announced in September last year that it had signed the nuclear deal with South Africa in the Austrian capital Vienna the government denied this.
It said this was a co-operation agreement. And, subsequent to this the government signed co-operation agreements with France, China, Korea and the US.
However, the participation of Rosatom in this week’s energy summit in Cape Town will be closely monitored.
The Russians are to give detailed input and exhibition on their nuclear work in the world.
Rosatom is headed by former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko. Kirienko was the Prime Minister in 1998.
During his appointment he was just 36 – the youngest Prime Minister in Russian history.
In 2005 the Russian government sent him to head Rosatom.