South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma says the government would add fresh nuclear power capacity to the country’s national grid by 2023 to replace the withdrawal of coal-fired power owned by power provider Eskom.
Zuma said in his State of the Nation address to parliament on February 12 that the government was considering the procurement of some 9,600MW of nuclear power supply with agreements signed with five countries including the US, South Korea, Russia, France and China.
‘All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select strategic partner to undertake the nuclear build programme,’ said Zuma. ‘Our target is to connect to first nuclear unit by 2023 just in time for Eskom to retire part of its ageing power plant,’ he added.
The government announced last November that it was taking another step towards adopting nuclear power by approaching companies in the country who have an interest in contributing to the project build. ‘There are a group of companies in the association which are working towards acquiring the international qualifications needed to work on nuclear build,’ Rob Davies, trade and industry minister was quoted by the online BDLive to have said.
‘You can rest assured that when and if a decision is taken about the procurement of nuclear power facilities, we as a department will be working to get a high level of localisation in the inputs involved,’ Davies told members of the parliament’s trade and industry committee.
Analysts described Davies’ comments as another example of the government’s firm decision to build nuclear power despite objections from business, which is yet to react to the latest announcement by Zuma on the matter.