Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy has let the cat out the bag at a round table recently. He says that the South African government is looking at nuclear energy solutions in the long-term energy strategy.
Under former state president Jacob Zuma’s administration, the then minister of energy tried to push through a nuclear energy deal with Russian energy company, Rostom, which, had it succeeded, would have effectively bankrupted the country’s coffers. Civil society organisations challenged the deal in court and won, and it was finally shelved when Cyril Ramaphosa became president.
To this end, Mantashe commented, “The fact that we suspected corruption doesn’t mean that nuclear is irrelevant for the country in 2019.” South Africa still remains the only country on the African continent with a commercial nuclear power plant. The Koeberg nuclear power plant, which houses two nuclear reactors, generates 5% of South Africa’s electricity productions.
On the country’s future power plans, Mantashe emphasized the importance of undoing the tensions between renewable energy and coal in securing energy solutions that are required to meet demands. With regards to this, he explained that there are no full commitment by the government to move towards nuclear at this stage, but rather a commitment to explore all energy options.
We all hope this vision is expedited in a move to stabilize the country’s power grid.