On 2 December 2021 the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) hold a webinar on nuclear energy in Africa focusing on governance, financing and peaceful uses.
The event was part of the SAIIA’s ‘Atoms 4 Development Project’, sponsored by the MFA of Norway. It focuses on the nexus between nuclear security in securing global peace and the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
In her opening remarks SAIIA’s Chief Executive Prof. Elizabeth Sidiropoulos noted that 17 African states have already expressed interest in nuclear energy: some have active nuclear research and development programs, while others are investigating the possibility of a nuclear build. Nuclear power is therefore expected to play an increasingly important role in improving energy supply and security and mitigating climate change on the African continent. Besides, several African states intend to use their uranium deposits for export revenues. Safety and security of new and existing nuclear programmes and uranium mining is paramount.
Against this background, the webinar surveyed the African continental nuclear institutions through a review provided by Prof Jo-Ansie van Wyk, University of South Africa (UNISA). Professor Van Wyk was invited lecturer during activities of the EU-funded, ISTC-managed project Support to Southern African States in Nuclear Safety and Safeguards.
Due attention was attributed to the governance of nuclear energy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). ISTC SPM &DA Kamen Velichkov made a presentation on the topic, entitled: Synchronizing Nuclear Governance in SADC Member States Through Regional Cooperation. It was based on the findings of the EU/ISTC project in Southern Africa.
The webinar also examined the financing of nuclear projects in Africa, and the role of vendor countries, which assist with both loans and technological know-how for these large-scale projects. This was the focus of the topic International Involvement in the African Nuclear Market, based on a paper by Ms Lezani van der Merwe from the South African National Nuclear Regulator – an organization that also partnered with ISTC during the implementation of the said project.
Finally, the webinar will also look at the role nuclear energy can play in Africa’s agriculture and health sectors, through the presentation: Nuclear Science and Technology: Driving Africa’s Development, by SAIIA’s expert Isabel Bosman.
Over forty foreign policy and nuclear experts, university faculty, members of the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa, and professionals from other walks of life, that attended the webinar expressed appreciation for the well-researched reports and adequate policy recommendations.