JOHANNESBURG - Russia’s nuclear state-owned entity – Rosatom - considers itself the favourite to meet South Africa’s nuclear ambitions.
A recent court judgement nullified any and all prior nuclear agreements South Africa had entered into with any country, including Russia.
Despite this setback, pursuing nuclear energy remains government policy.
Global leaders in nuclear power generation are gathered in Johannesburg.These international companies are all looking to woo South Africa.
Expanding our nuclear capacity is government policy, but just who wins the contract is the multi-trillion rand question.
Russia’s nuclear SOE - Rosatom – believes it's the front runner in the race, for several reasons. Among them, it has 1 400 reactor years of operation under the belt.
Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom's Sub-Saharan Africa Vice-President says: “Our nuclear industry is 70 years old. We have the most referenced technology in the world and we have the most advance technology today.”
If the nuclear deal goes ahead, it will reportedly cost the South African tax payer upwards of 1.2 trillion rand. Polikarpov claims the value of nuclear exceeds its cost.
“A lot of jobs will be created. A lot of South African companies will be participating in localisation and just bringing a lot of money to the budget of South Africa. So all this speculation about the cost are groundless. This is our business and Africa is a huge potential for doing business. We are not in politics, believe me,” says Polikarpow.
A local industry body says speculation that Rasoatom has the inside track for the nuclear build programme is unwarranted.
According to Knox Msebensi, MD of the Nuclear Industry Association of SA, “If we already knew who the vendor was, what is the point in going through an RFI and RFP? Unless you are suggesting we are just going through a paper exercise. In a democracy such as ours it is not going to be possible to do that.”
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Government is planning for at least a third of South Africa’s future energy mix to be nuclear.
Bidding for the build programme is highly contested.