Koeberg: Africa’s only nuclear power station. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Koeberg: Africa’s only nuclear power station. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The government is committed to a process that is open and transparent, cost-effective and competitive in pursuing the nuclear new build programme, says President Jacob Zuma.

In a written reply to a question in Parliament by the DA, Zuma insisted nuclear remained firmly part of SA’s future energy mix, alongside hydro, solar, coal, wind and gas power.

"Guided by the 1998 white paper on energy, government took a policy decision to pursue the energy mix, which includes coal, nuclear, solar, wind, gas and hydro," said Zuma.

"Cabinet further endorsed the nuclear energy policy of 2008 that represents the government’s commitment to develop an extensive nuclear energy programme to ensure energy security whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing job creation.

"The nuclear new build programme will be undertaken at a pace and scale that the country can afford, as part of the general energy mix that we are pursuing in order to ensure energy security.... Government is committed to a process that is open and transparent, cost-effective and competitive."

It is estimated the nuclear programme could cost as much as R1-trillion. Many observers say SA has no need for nuclear and the country cannot afford it amid a growing budget deficit.

In the medium-term budget policy statement in October, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba painted a bleak picture of the economy, with a projected revenue shortfall of R50bn for 2017-18, because of slow growth and poor tax collection.

The consolidated budget deficit would jump to 4.3% of GDP in the next fiscal year, against a target of 3.1%. However, Gigaba said in November that nuclear would inevitably remain part of the energy mix.

The extent of affordability would depend on the strength of growth in the economy and of intensive electricity use, and strengthening of the Eskom balance sheet, he said. The government would not proceed in a "reckless manner".

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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