Reliable and affordable energy is key to stimulating any economy, says Rosatom sub-Saharan African regional VP Viktor Polikarpov.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Africa Energy Indaba, on Wednesday, he noted that the lack of electricity in various parts of the continent was a major hurdle for African nations when it came to achieving their full economic potential.
He pointed out that African nations that were concerned about their energy futures naturally turned to their natural resources, including coal, gas, hydro, solar and geothermal energy, first.
“This is completely justifiable, as the need for power should be tapped as soon as possible. However, when identifying the ideal energy mix for Africa, numerous factors need to be taken into account,” he argued.
He added that, for this, one must consider the so-called energy trilemma.
“Every well balanced and sustainable energy mix should ideally be cost effective, have supply security and be environment-friendly and sustainable. Out of all electricity sources, only nuclear is currently capable of ticking all three boxes,” Polikarpov said.
Making the case for nuclear energy, he said a modern nuclear power plant was able to supply uninterrupted power for between 60 and 80 years at a predictable and affordable price, which was not drastically effected by the volatility of the global commodity market.
He further stated that nuclear energy was a key component of a clean and sustainable energy strategy, as it emits no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“The ideal future energy mix for Africa is nuclear, backed up by renewables. This is how we can make the world green and, at the same time, deliver cost efficient electricity to Africa in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said the country could not currently afford a large nuclear build programme, given government's and Eskom's weak financial positions.