China in talks over South Africa’s mammoth nuclear build programme

12 March 2014

China’s nuclear heavyweights are moving in to capitalise on South Africa’s plans to build three nuclear power stations together costed at more than $92bn.

State-owned nuclear firms the China General Nuclear Corporation and the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation met with energy minister Ben Martins in Cape Town in late February to discuss a draft agreement on funding and building the plants, reported South Africa’s BDLive.

South Africa’s proposed nuclear plan totals over R1-trillion ($92bn), which would see the commissioning of three stations to supply 9,600MW, and has attracted interest from Russia, France, South Korea as well as others.

BDLive reported that it would be South Africa’s single biggest procurement.

South Africa’s National Planning Commission and the Department of Energy have said that cheaper options such as gas be pursued, but President Jacob Zuma indicated in his state of the nation address in February that the government "expected to conclude the procurement" of 9,600MW of nuclear energy.

South African president Jacob Zuma said the government expected to move ahead with procuring 9,600MW of nuclear energy (SABC)

An advisor to Ben Martins, Robert Nkuna, told BDLive that the agreement with China was still in draft form, as are similar agreements with the Russians and the French.

He said the draft agreement includes skills development and research as well as the nuclear build programme.

Mr Martins toured nuclear facilities in Russia, China, France, the US and Japan last November.

Both Russia and China have promised localisation programmes as well as skills capacity training for South Africans.

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