Nuclear power procurement process initiated

According to the department of energy, South Africa has started a process that could lead to it adding as much as 9,600 MW of nuclear power to the national grid. Cabinet has given the go ahead to issue a request for proposals from the nuclear industry, which would be put to the cabinet for approval before a request for formal bids was issued.

South Africa's power problems are well known. In October this year, Treasury set aside R200 million to consider the costs, benefits and risks of building additional nuclear power stations, as Koeberg, station near Cape Town is currently the country's only nuclear power plant. However, with analysts estimating that the nuclear project will cost as much as R1 trillion rand - a sum of money which many argue the country simply cannot afford - proceeding with the project is a controversial matter.

Nhlanhla Nene, SA's former finance minister, pledged that the nuclear programme would be transparent. Pravin Gordhan, who recently took over from Nene, said his office would ensure that SA stuck to fiscal prudence, including any deals pertaining to the building of more nuclear power stations.

It its statement, the department of energy said it was committed to cost effectiveness and transparency, saying it would ensure that the process was done within the government's fiscal policy framework. Whether this proves true remains to be seen.

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