Nene dispells Nuclear concerns: Affordability an issue, will be transparent

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 15 (Reuters) – South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene pledged on Tuesday that the country’s nuclear programme, its most expensive procurement deal, will be transparent, dispelling concerns among opposition parties that the government is moving ahead without proper disclosure.

South Africa hopes to install 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power in the next 15 years to address chronic electricity shortages.

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The country currently suffers regular power cuts and is forced to rely on coal fired-generators.

South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene
South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene

“We have a transparent budgeting process. I don’t see the reason why there should be this anxiety on the nuclear build programme,” Nene said on Talk Radio 702.

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Analysts estimate the project will cost as much as $100 billion and there has been mounting concern among opposition parties about the cost and that agreements to build the nuclear plants will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.

“As we look at the energy mix, affordability is going to be an issue, its for that reason I think the nation should await the budgeting process, we can’t budget in public as people expect,” Nene said.

China, France, Russia, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Canada have all expressed interest.

Inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) have been signed or are close to signing but opposition lawmakers have said the wording of these differ significantly and seem to favour Russia.

An energy advisor to the government said in June that South Africa was considering using reactors from Russia’s Rosatom and Westinghouse of the United States for its nuclear fleet expansion.

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