Daily News  :: Southern Africa

Namibia looks toward nuclear power

Published: 10-JAN-07

Windhoek - Namibia is seeking regional and international help to build a nuclear power generation plant as the country, which has huge deposits of uranium, scrambles to achieve self-sustenance in electricity generation.

Mines and Energy permanent secretary Josef Iita said in an interview on Tuesday that the Southern African country was seeking regional and international co-operation to develop its nuclear power generation plans.

Iita said uranium for electricity generation was now a Namibian government top priority policy but said the country requires the co- operation of the southern African region and other international players to roll out its plans.

"Using uranium for electricity generation is now a policy position of the government. We have committed ourselves to generate electricity including nuclear energy," Iita said.

Iita said Namibia was currently consulting with countries that have advanced programmes in nuclear energy such as the United States, France and China.

"We are also participating in all the international fora in nuclear power and we are sending engineers to attend short courses in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency," Iita added.

Nuclear energy plans for Namibia, which has abundant uranium deposits, remain in the long term realms of developing a sustainable electricity generation base.

In the short term Namibia, a net importer of electricity, has pinned its hopes for sustainable power on Caprivi Link Interconnector, a 970km 350kV High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) bipolar line, which could see the country importing electricity from Zambia and DR Congo.

A small coal-fired electricity generation plant would soon be set up near the deep water port of Walvis Bay amid fears of a total regional electricity blackout this year.

Iita said Namibia plans to initially build a small nuclear energy plant.

"It is a long term plan but first we have to train the people, set up the infrastructure and we can only achieve this by co-operating with countries with advanced technology," he said.

Iita could not rule out co-operation with South Africa, which last year announced plans to convert uranium into electricity.

Namibia has eight known uranium deposits in its vast deserts and accounts for about 7 percent of the world's market.

It currently has two operating uranium mines, Rossing Uranium mine and Langer Heinrich.

During the past six months the Namibian government has awarded 15 uranium exploration licences.-panapress

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