Rosatom offers to finance and build Kenya’s first nuclear power station

Promising "the safest reactor in the universe", Russia’s state nuclear energy agency Rosatom has made a public offer to finance, design and build Kenya’s first nuclear power plant.

Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom’s regional vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa, told a nuclear power conference in Nairobi that his government was willing to build the plant using a build-operate-transfer procurement model.

Rosatom said it would finance the project from Russian banks with the backing of an intergovernmental agreement, and with a 25-year repayment period.

Polikarpov told the Kenyan press: "We are presently providing the VVER-1200 third-generation reactor, which is the safest in the universe. We can present our favoured solution to your government if given a chance."

Zakhele Madela, Rosatom’s Africa business development manager, was quoted in The Star newspaper as saying: "Kenya’s determined industrialisation objective requires immense energy. Nuclear energy will be the best if you want to secure a base. You cannot continue relying on renewables."

Kenya is planning to build four nuclear plants, and has already signed memorandums of understanding with Rosatom as well as Chinese and Korean firms, but has not chosen a delivery partner.

The cost of a 3GW VVER would be in the range of $4-9bn.

The Nairobi conference brought together government officials, local and international energy companies to set out Kenya’s nuclear power programme.

The country has an effective installed capacity of about 2.3GW. The national development plan foresees an expansion to 19GW by 2030 using a combination of coal, wind, geothermal and nuclear.

Image: Kenya’s ramshackle transmission and distribution networks are a block on economic growth (World Bank)

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