South Africa, the continent’s second largest economy, with the most organized business and financial sector in the region, has had its share of electricity related issues culminating in a spate of load shedding that upset its industrial customers of which there are quite a few. Eskom, the state owned utility, has gotten some of these problems behind it and has launched an ambitious generation building program that could add 9,500 megawatts to the presently installed electric generating capacity of 46,300 MWs. (Eskom supplies 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity needs, or about 45 percent of Africa’s entire electric generation., largely by burning coal. ) Despite this aggressive plan for multi-billion dollar power plant construction, that’s not why Eskom is back in the headlines. In 2014 South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Russia’s Vladimir Putin signed an agreement whereby Russia’s state-owned Rosatom would supply the country with eight nuclear power stations with a capacity of 9,600 MW. The cost of the projects was estimated at $76 billion (or 1 trillion rand). To put the magnitude of this deal in perspective, Eskom’s assets now total about $52 billion. At present the country has one nuclear power station, the Areva-built Koeberg unit in Western Cape Province which is rated at 1,931 MWs.
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