Zambia and Toshiba in 2GW Nuclear energy generation talks

Nuclear reactor sample driving a geothermal plant. Zambia is in talks for a 2GW plant with Toshiba.

AFRICA’s second largest copper producer Zambia is in talks with Japanese Toshiba for 2,000MW (2GW) nuclear energy generation. Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chalwe Lombe, confirmed this development and further stated that the program would take a duration of 15 years to complete. The government of Zambia held talks with a Japanese delegation led by General Manager for Government and External Relations of Toshiba, Yoshita Yamaguchi.

The Zambian government last year commenced talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA, the world’s center for co-operation in the nuclear field, and IAEA Chief Director General Yukiya Amano was in Zambia mot so long ago  to discuss possibilities of nuclear energy development especially that Zambia is said to have high grade uranium in most parts of North Western and Southern provinces.

The Zambia Institute of Scientific Research in the week issued a statement saying Zambia could grapple with energy challenges for the next decade or so. It further cautioned the government on considering nuclear generation citing lack of safety maintenance capabilities.

The need for diversified renewable energy sources comes in the wake of the energy deficit suffered in the 2016 -2016 years when El nino weather conditions led to poor rainfall conditions that impacted the Southern African country’s water bodies negatively bringing the Kariba to almost 14% full in dam levels. Over dependence on hydro for power generation and low investment in diversified energy sources caused a widened over 560 MW deficit that resulted in load shedding power rationing initiatives that in turn halved copper productivity capacity, caused inflation spirals and slowed gross domestic product to 3.22% levels compared to 6.7% in good years.

There has never been a time in history that Africa recorded such a high amount of renewable energy investment with Zambia making headlines for the lowest solar cost per unit in Africa at the World Bank solar auctions. Many other projects are currently underway are the 750MW – Lower Kafue,  300MW – Maamba geothermal phase two and the 5,600MW Batoka project between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“A 2GW addition to the power generation stock is a welcome move provided the safety security and environmental concerns are dealt with regards radiation which usually unsettles citizens. Most nations that have refuted nuclear energy have done so on account of toxication of the areas and security health concerns. Once all the energy projects in the pipe line complete, Zambia can boast of being an energy hub to export to deficit sections in Southern Africa. However cost reflective tariffs are the biggest bet on luring more investment in the sector.”

Business Times Lead Analyst said.

Zambia has extended diversification efforts to power through a renewable sources. Toshiba plans to invest in Zambia’s energy sector once a feasibility study on geothermal energy is concluded, Yamaguchi confirmed in Japan.

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