(Reuters) – Nigeria inched closer to generating electricity from nuclear energy on Monday as the Chairman of the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, Simon Mallam, and Russia’s state-owned Rosatom Vice President (Overseas Marketing and Business Development), Anton Moskvin, signed an agreement for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant and research centre in Africa’s biggest economy.
The deals are the latest signed by Russia’s state nuclear agency as it looks to expand in Sub-Saharan Africa beyond a planned bid to build nuclear power plants in South Africa.
Moskvin, in a statement, said, “The development of nuclear technologies will allow Nigeria to strengthen its position as one of the leading countries of the African continent.”
Nigeria, which first signed a broad nuclear cooperation agreement with Rosatom in 2009, is turning to nuclear power as Africa’s most populous nation tries to end decades of blackouts that has hindered its economy.
Feasibility studies for the new nuclear power plant, which would be the first in the continent’s main crude oil exporter, include site screening and financing schemes, Moskvin said.
Rosatom, South Korea’s Kepco, France’s EDF and Areva, Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and China’s CGN are competing for South Africa’s project, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars to develop up to 9,600 megawatts, should it get the green light amid cost concerns in a stagnant economy.
South Africa’s Koeberg power plant is the only commercial nuclear site in Africa. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia and Mark Potter)