Russia is attempting to gain influence in Africa and earn billions of pounds by selling developing nations nuclear technology that critics say is unsuitable and unlikely to benefit the continent’s poorest people. Representatives of Rosatom, the Russian state corporation responsible for both the military and civil use of nuclear energy, have approached the leaders of dozens of African countries in the past two years. The company, which is building a $29bn reactor for Egypt, has concluded agreements with Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa and others. Nigeria has a deal with Rosatom for the construction of a nuclear reactor, and less ambitious agreements of cooperation have been signed with Sudan, Ethiopia and the Republic of the Congo. Russia has also set up an offices to promote nuclear energy in Zambia, with well-funded outreach campaigns designed to drum up enthusiasm. “Access to energy is a basic human right and necessary for a dignified life. The majority of those denied this right live in Africa,” said Friends of the Earth. “However, the expansion of profit-driven nuclear energy in Africa would only exacerbate the problem.” The environmental NGO said the answer to Africa’s energy needs lay in “efficient technology that meets the daily needs of people, in the hands of communities and municipalities, and controlled democratically”. Only small-scale and interconnected grids that were democratically managed could deliver energy sovereignty to African people, it added. Rosatom has accused Friends of the Earth and other NGOs of “hardline anti-nuclear activism … based on a position well known for being completely biased and riddled with factual errors”. It said its priority was “sustainable development” and that nuclear energy was “intrinsically immune to any form of political manipulation”.
Guardian 28th Aug 2019 read more »