n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Rethinking the 'nuclear option' - nuclear plants carry too many security risks - : Africa-wide - featured analysis

Volume 2013, Issue 11
  • ISSN :


Nuclear energy has triggered a highly contentious debate across the globe, and Africa is no exception. In the face of a global cacophony of opinions, however, the phenomenon is neither easily grasped nor easily reconciled, as it deals not just with the observable or measurable world, but also with hypothetical speculation, ethos and tricky risk evaluations. As the nuclear energy politics of Asia, Europe and North America tend to capture much of the media spotlight, nuclear energy is also an option being extensively explored across the Africa.

South Africa is presently the only African country that operates active reactors. The Koeberg 1 and Koeberg 2 nuclear power stations went online in 1984 and 1985 respectively. However, a growing number of countries, including Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria, have already set up nuclear-research reactors, while countries like Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia are showing keen interest in developing national nuclear energy programmes. This 'atomic optimism' and evident drive to join the so-called 'nuclear renaissance' is primarily attributed to the depiction of nuclear energy as a quick-fix solution to a perceived energy crisis as the continent struggles to meet its growing demand. Yet the central question remains whether the continent is suited and ready to tap nuclear energy in the face of mounting safety, security and ethical concerns. To consider the viability of the 'nuclear option' for African countries, a critical stance on the issue is required that considers the costs and constraints that can discredit the claim that nuclear energy presents a reliable source of energy and serves the best interest of the African people.

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