AFRICANGLOBE – A nuclear deal with France has been signed off by South Africa’s Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the energy department said on Tuesday.
“This paves the way for establishing a nuclear procurement process,” said the minister in a departmental statement.
The agreement was signed with the French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius and covers areas including skills development and research.
“This agreement initiates the preparatory phase for the possible deployment of French nuclear technology in South Africa.”
South Africa would continue to proceed with similar agreements with other countries as part of its programme to roll out nuclear energy.
“The expansion of South Africa’s nuclear programme will yield tremendous benefit for the country.”
The minister cited examples of these benefits as ranging from mining and industrialisation, to job creation and to the generation of power “without a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions”.
Last month, controversy arose when it was revealed that a R1 trillion nuclear agreement between South Africa and Russia had been signed.
The Presidency refuted claims that President Jacob Zuma had acted alone in securing the deal and instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign off on it.
“The president works with Cabinet on the matter,” said presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj at the time.
Earlier this month, energy department acting director general Wolsey Barnard said there had been a “misunderstanding” about previous statements appearing to confirm details of power plants to be built as part of the Russian deal.
He said South Africa was still looking at different options to facilitate nuclear power in the country.
Also this month, the department’s deputy director general nuclear Zizamele Mbambo, said the agreements being entered into at the moment Äapparently with six countries – were not for the construction of nuclear plants but were to determine which technologies suited South Africa’s needs best.
“We are at a stage where we are preparing for the procurement process. I need to highlight that the procurement process has not started,” he said at the time.