Southern Africa power crunch: Namibia to build nuclear station

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The Namibian government Monday announced plans to construct a nuclear power station within a decade, as it seeks an independent power supply status amid a regional power crunch.

Joseph Iita, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said government was mulling a nuclear-generated energy strategy. The nuclear project would include investors from neighbouring South Africa, the US and France. “We are thinking of nuclear-generated energy. The political position is already there, we are working with the Americans, the French and South Africans,” Iita was quoted as saying by the local press.

SADC countries are scrambling to secure a permanent and steady electricity supply, amidst an acute regional power crunch which analysts say could stunt investment and sharply cut down output, especially in the robust mining sector. Due to decades of under-investment in the energy sector, most SADC countries have found themselves at the receiving end of a biting energy shortage, which is threatening to derail years of solid economic growth.

Faced with power shortfalls in the domestic market, South Africa, which supplies about 80 per cent of the region’s electricity requirements, has cut down on exports, nearly plunging some of the regional countries into darkness. “The region has been spoilt, now its over,” Iita said in reference to South Africa’s inability to export cheap electricity to its neighbours.

The government will shortly publish new regulations governing the civil nuclear sector, mining and electricity production. “We know that it is a long term undertaking. This will take up to 10 years but there is nothing more expensive than the sovereignty of a country,” the Permanent Secretary said.

Before the current electricity supply shortfall, Namibia used to import up to 70 per cent of its electricity requirements from South Africa. Meanwhile, reports here Monday said the Inga III hydro-power project is expected to top this year’s SADC Energy Ministers conference agenda, in the face of the worsening power problem in the southern African region.

Energy Ministers from the Western Power Corridor Company (Westcor) will meet along the sidelines of the SADC Energy Ministers conference, to be held in the DR Congo in April, to deliberate on the progress being made in developing the Inga power project.

Efforts by SADC countries to collaborate on energy matters have been heightened amid the electricity shortage in the region. Angola, Botswana, Namibia, the DRC and South Africa formed Westcor as a joint venture company, which seeks to exploit the potential in hydro-power offered by the Inga river.

Initial feasibility studies indicate that power could start flowing from the Inga III project by 2012, and that the Westcor project could be delivering 15,000 MW by 2020. Officials also said the Inga III project was a precursor to the grand Inga power project.

Experts said the Inga river, located in the DRC, had the capacity to power the whole African continent and even feed surplus power into Europe, with an estimated energy capacity of 370 billion kWh..

The river already powers Inga 1 & 2 power stations, which are currently being refurbished.

by panapress

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