Uncertainty mounts over costly nuclear deal
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Cape Town - South Africa's decision on the nuclear programme is likely to be clarified in the next two weeks when Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe briefs Parliament on whether it’s officially off the table or not.
Portfolio committee on energy chairperson Fikile Majola said on Saturday Radebe would appear before the committee in the week of April 17 to talk about independent power producers (IPP), the nuclear energy programme and the sale of the country’s oil reserves.
Majola said he did not know if a definite decision had been made to scrap the nuclear programme, but Radebe would shed light on this then.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Davos, Switzerland, in January the programme was off the table.
This was followed by statements from former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and his successor Nhlanhla Nene to the effect that the nuclear project was unaffordable.
But Majola said he was not aware that nuclear energy was off the table.
“The committee is not aware of what is going to happen besides what the president has said.”
The government signed several agreements this week with the IPPs amounting to R55.6 billion. But this elicited an angry response from the National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.
When the matter was in the High Court in the Western Cape, Radebe said there would not be any nuclear deal until the matter had been brought before Parliament.
However, Ramaphosa has said it was off the table and did not even mention it in his State of the Nation Address.
Russian energy firm Rosatom told Independent Media recently it was still bidding for nuclear contracts and had not heard anything from the government.
Rosatom has signed multiple agreements in Africa to deliver nuclear energy. In Egypt the Russians bagged a nuclear deal worth $30 billion (R360 billion), with $25bn of it to be vendor financing.
This week, Russian president Vladimir Putin was in Turkey to sign another nuclear deal.
The Russians are to build a nuclear plant on the coast of Turkey. This followed an agreement signed a few years ago.
Head of Rosatom in southern Africa Viktor Polikarpov said recently the company was in Ghana and was moving into East Africa.