India, France join race to build nuclear energy plant

02 June 2017 Author   CHAMWE KAIRA
Mines and Energy Minister, Obeth Kandjoze, has revealed that France and India have expressed interest in developing Namibia’s uranium resources.
This comes after the Windhoek Observer reported in recent weeks that China and Russia are interested in setting up or helping Namibia set up nuclear power plants in the country.
“Primarily, the two countries (China and Russia) have expressed interest in accessing uranium resources, with India and France joining the list of interested countries as well. The interest is varied and the prime interest remains access to uranium and uranium products,” Kandjoze told the Windhoek Observer this week.
He said nuclear energy and its related technologies and associated benefits remain a real option given the abundant supply of uranium in the country as well as Namibia’s efforts at industrialisation and self-sufficiency in terms of power supply.
“All of this should remain options for consideration,” the minister said.
Last week, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Yury Trutnev, encouraged Namibia to build nuclear plants to meet its electricity needs.
He wondered why Namibia imports 60 percent of its electricity needs when it has capacity to build nuclear plants given its abundant uranium deposits.
In April, Swakop Uranium, the owner of the N$20 billion Husab uranium mine in the Erongo region, said it had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to set up a nuclear power plant in Namibia.
The Windhoek Observer’s story on foreign interest in possible Namibian nuclear plant industry drew mixed responses on social media.
One reader said the negative perception that nuclear energy is dangerous, is created by people who don’t want others to develop.
“It is the same with the concept of climate change and sustainable development. These are unfair concepts to us developing countries. A country like Namibia will never come to the level of Japan or Korea or Singapore while using renewable energy. This is not going to happen, I guarantee.”
Another reader, Franz Uirab, said, “We have the uranium. We have land where no one dares to stay- the desert. Build it!! Else don’t export our uranium because we will need it one day for electricity.”
Pieterus Weyulu Nghidengwa said most sceptics on nuclear plants don’t have enough facts about the energy.
“Truth is most of these tree huggers don’t know anything about nuclear energy or radiation apart from skewed memory of Chernobyl and recently the Fukushima Daiichi incident. We need to go nuclear for energy sustainability and development; the technology has been around for years and is safe,” he said.
However, one reader said considering nuclear power is utter madness, while encouraging the authorities to consider geothermal power.
“The rest of the world is closing their nuclear power stations, because of the dangers involved and the extensive, irreversible damage that they can do,” Peter Dirks said.
Government recently lifted the moratorium on uranium exploration after a 10-year ban, resulting in a number of companies expressing interest to explore for uranium in the country.
Kandjoze said although interest has grown since the ban was lifted, subdued uranium prices remain a hindrance to an aggressive uptake.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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