Energy security is a challenge for Africa

Nov 27, 2006 01:00 AM

Energy security is a challenge that governments in Africa and the world have to confront as it is indispensable to improving peoples' lives, South African Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said.
"Whilst energy demand is increasing, the contribution of some primary energy sources to climate change presents us with challenges," said Sonjica, speaking at a "Powering Africa: the Nuclear Option" meeting in Cape Town.

She said there was a need to diversify energy supply by developing advanced, non-polluting, more efficient, affordable and cost-effective energy technologies, including renewable energy technologies, to meet the rising global demand for energy, particularly in developing countries.
"... Nuclear energy should and must form part of any consideration of security of supply of energy."

To ensure the success of nuclear energy, Sonjica said governments need to provide leadership. This includes ensuring that clear and unambiguous policies are developed, which will create anenabling environment for the exploitation of the energy source.
Sonjica said: "We have to make every effort to ensure that Africans derive not only monetary value from exports of uranium ore, but actually make use of the energy from this mineral resource." This will require deliberate and calculated planning on the part of leaders of the continent, she said.

At the 50th International Atomic Energy Agency meeting(IAEA), South Africa made an announcement that the government is considering the establishment of a regional nuclear and radiation safety regulator forum to assist in strengthening regulatory effectiveness on a regional basis.
The National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa is in preliminary discussion with their Nigerian counterparts on the how such a forum can be constituted. The aims of the forum will be to ensure the strengthening of regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, as well as harmonisation of safety standards in the region. A post-graduate course in radiation protection will begin in July next year.

There was a discussion with the IAEA about hosting a regional physical protection (security) course during the next year.
"These are small contributions that we want to make to nuclear-infrastructure development in the continent," Sonjica said. Last year, radioactive waste-management policy and strategy legislation was published and the drafting of one of the pieces of the legislation that would give effect to the policy provision is being finalised. She said one aspect of nuclear energy is a need for all countries to adhere to their obligation in terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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