18 African countries just signed Nuclear deals with Russia. Hopefully, they did their home work before signing these deals.By Bovet Maloba
Europe is running away from Nuclear plants, there are hundreds of thousands of antinuclear protesters in France, meanwhile Germany is leading the antinuclear campaign in Europe because of how dangerous this form of energy is. But guess what. While European is making sure to reduce the nuclear matter in their space and soil, Africa seems to be all to willing to bear the weight for Europe.
I don’t see why Africans should embrace it. We have huge waterfalls that can generate electricity or, better still, we can go into solar technology not Nuclear. Corporate and government opinion on nuclear energy have often been skewed towards what I will call the politics of benefitting some parties against others. Najat Mokhtar, deputy director-general and head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told a discussion panel on nuclear energy at the Sochi economic forum that: “Nuclear technologies are a very important tool in the development and drafting of sustainable development goals.”
African statemen are buying into this rhetoric. Claver Gatete, minister of infrastructure of the Republic of Rwanda, seemed to be corroborating Moktar when he said “We have a dream: we want to become a highly developed country by 2035 and a country with a high standard of living by 2050. Nuclear energy should be the main driver for achieving the goals facing our country.”
The truth, however, is far from what these politicians are saying. let us take a scenario that no one actually prays for as an example. If one nuclear plant has an accident it can cause a terrible disaster to that entire region for hundreds of years. Accidental release of harmful radiation is one of the biggest drawbacks of nuclear energy. Moreover, nuclear energy requires an enormous amount of capital for just a single plant to go operational. Some data show it might cost up to $12 billion to build a modern nuclear plant.
Furthermore, not only is it outstandingly expensive to build a plant, it is also expensive to run a nuclear plant successfully, as it cannot function without Uranium, a mineral which is in high demand for the creation of nuclear weapons by the most powerful countries on earth. Now if you weren’t thinking about it, Uranium is also extraordinarily costly.
One must note that Africa’s greatest worry in this deal should be how to dispose of or manage nuclear waste? Nuclear waste contains unstable elements and is highly radioactive. It’s very dangerous to our environment, as not even the sea or oceans can be used to dispose of the waste. The waste also has long term implications that can be very dangerous to human health. It can take hundreds of years for any nuclear matter to be fully absolved of its calamitous properties to humanity and the environment. Cit can cause cancer and other diseases.
If ever Africa should consider this sort of agreements, perhaps, in my opinion, the only thing connected to the word nuclear that some African countries should embrace is nuclear weapons. The world seems to be built on the principle of power being in the hands of those who possess nuclear weapons. Perhaps, in other to be a contender in the international scene, Africa should vie for nuclear weapons. But then, that is another stretch of debate on a whole new level.
Do not forget the Chernobyl and fukushima nuclear disasters that left lastingly devastating effects in their wake. Dangerous nuclear accidents happen very often. Scientists estimate that hundreds of thousands of people were severely affected by Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine and the radiation from it spread throughout Europe. It will cost billions of USD to clean the atmosphere and environment completely after such disasters. Imagine Africans who don’t take anything serious, where will they get the money and technology to manage such a disaster, if that lot ever became theirs?
The way forward, in my opinion, is for Africa to embrace renewable energy, especially solar technology, which is less expensive and relatively safe for humanity and the environment. Please warn your leaders!