Ethiopia: US says smaller nuclear reactors good for Africa’s electricity needs

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    The US is involved in the training of nuclear experts in Africa and has signed agreements for the design of small nuclear reactors that could drastically resolve energy shortfalls by 2023, visiting US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Wednesday.

    Moniz, currently in Africa to popularise President Barack Obama’s ‘Power Africa initiative’, said while his Department was more focused on Africa’s natural gas projects, the issue of nuclear energy has featured.

    “The discussion is how to build human capacity for nuclear programmes. We are happy to assist in this discussion…(small nuclear reactors) might be cost-effective for Africa if it materialises,” Secretary Moniz told journalists at the US-Africa Energy Ministerial underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The energy talks are focused on how the US can assist some 240 million people to access electricity in six African countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia and Tanzania – through a new plan, Beyond the Grid, focused on rural electrification plans.

    Secretary Moniz said his Energy Department provided assistance to two private companies to build new nuclear reactors that could help to solve the safety concerns.

    The African Union (AU) warned last week that African countries with plans to build nuclear power plants should await a greenlight from the AU because of the risks of suffering long-term financial hardships.

    There have been safety concerns over the generation of power from nuclear reactors amid environmental safety concerns and the need to cut carbon emissions to control climate change.

    Secretary Moniz said smaller nuclear reactors of between 50 and 200MW produced from factories and installed underground could be much safer for use by the African states seeking to revolutionise their power generation capacity.

    Kenya, Nigeria and Namibia have announced plans to explore nuclear energy options.

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