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SA/Russia nuclear energy deal to create more jobs

The agreement will see Russia’s atomic energy agency providing up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa.

The agreement will see Russia’s atomic energy agency providing up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa. Picture: www.freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - Concerns have been raised about South Africa's multibillion rand nuclear energy agreement with Russia.

The energy agreement was signed on Monday, but experts say if it's not a transparent process it will be another arms deal.

Energy expert Chris Yelland has warned the process must be transparent, with fair and open bidding.

"The deal is worth approximately R100 billion, that's approximately 20 times the size of the arms deal. And certainly it requires an open and transparent process. Any arrangement behind closed doors of a project like this will be deeply concerning."

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Tina Joemat Petterson says the nuclear energy deal will open the door for South Africa to access technologies, funding and infrastructure from that country.

The R111 billion deal paves the way for the building of up to 9.6 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2030.

The agreement will see Russia's atomic energy agency providing up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa.

The Energy Minister says the deal provides a solid platform for future collaboration between the two countries.

Joemat-Petterson and the Director-General of Russia's State Atomic energy corporation signed the agreement on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna on Monday.

Russia will also help in the development of South African nuclear infrastructure and will assist in educating local specialists.

Aside from the provision of eight nuclear reactors, the deal allows for the construction of a Russian technology-based multipurpose research reactor.

South Africa's ambitious "integrated resource plan" envisions 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy being added to the national grid to help reduce reliance on coal.

The deal is also expected to create thousands of jobs.

ENERGY CHALLENGES

South Africa's integrated resources plan envisions nuclear energy being added to the national grid to help reduce reliance on coal, which Eskom uses to generate 80 percent of the country's electricity.

Eskom has battled to keep the lights on and is facing mounting pressure to bring the Medupi Power Station online as a matter of urgency.

Last week, the utility said it was confident the Medupi Power Plant would come online by December.

It said the power plant is expected to be synchronised at midday on Christmas Eve.