SA can't afford nuclear power: Ramaphosa - TechCentral

SA can’t afford nuclear power: Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa (photo: GCIS)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is next in line to lead the country, said the government currently can’t afford to build new nuclear power reactors.

“We have to look at where the economy is — we have excess power and we have no money to go for a major nuclear plant building,” Ramaphosa told reporters on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We have said the nuclear process will be looked at in the broad context of affordability.”

Ramaphosa’s approach differs markedly from that of President Jacob Zuma, who he succeeded last month as head of the ANC. Zuma has championed plans to build as many as eight reactors that would generate 9.6GW of energy starting from 2023 and cost as much as R1 trillion — a programme critics say the country can’t afford and doesn’t need.

While court challenges stalled the government’s plans to seek bids to build new atomic plants last year, Zuma signalled that he wanted to revive the nuclear programme when he reshuffled his cabinet in October and changed his energy minister. Ramaphosa, who is expected to succeed Zuma as president within the next few months, has said the government should focus on developing other forms of renewable energy.

Rosatom, Areva, EDF, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric unit, China Guangdong Nuclear Power and Korea Electric Power previously expressed interest in building new reactors in South Africa.  — Reported by Jan Dahinten and Paul Burkhardt, with assistance from Jacqueline Mackenzie, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP


  1. Ramaphosa is saying all the right things, but only time will tell if they are empty words. Hopefully they are not, and his business savvy will keep him on the right track when he eventually takes over from Zuma. He understands international economics, so that should keep him as straight as is possible for a politician.

  2. Idle Phaedrus on

    To be honest we don’t really have the money to bring on stream the rest of Medupi and Kusuli either which are hugely over budget already.

    The remaining units at both should be mothballed for now. Jobs WILL be lost. But I expect a similar number of jobs have already been lost in the renewable sector due to the delay there (see below). The renewable sector jobs would probably have been more sustainable jobs in the longer term.

    The outstanding contracts with renewable energy companies that were entered into in good faith and have been put on hold by the Government and Eskom for the last two or three years should be finalised and put in place and connected soonest.

    Then we can take a deep breath, and with the new Board and Exco at Eskom actually make an informed, transparent decision, on a least cost basis, with full public participation, and taking the most recent Lazard report (and others) with regards to cost by generation source into account.

    Then the energy sector in South Africa might start to move in a positive direction, and the folks on the ground might actually eventually pay less and won’t be saddled with a crushing debt for another fifty years.

  3. Yeah… one can only but drily remark — ‘drily’ the operative word here– that neither do we seem to have the money to sort out the Cape’s water crisis with alacrity– Seem people are more worried about thermonuclear power plants than addressing the national emergency of water supply to the Cape, which at this very moment stares us in the face and affects us all.

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