The Potential of Nuclear Power for African Development
By admin July 7, 2017

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As the African population continues to exponentially grow, governments in the continent look for ways to keep up with the booming population. One such way of economic development is by looking towards alternative energy sources, such as nuclear energy. Nuclear energy, in coordination with other clean sources of power, can be a major and efficient driver for economic progress across the continent. Clean and cheap energy is not the only goal of nuclear power. Technology and innovation are also one of the main factors that is pushing African governments towards nuclear research. Non-energy sectors such as the health industry would greatly progress with the introduction of nuclear technology. Similarly, infrastructure and social development is another sector that can see immense gains from nuclear energy.

Past examples have shown that the development of nuclear power has had a positive impact on the economic and social conditions of surrounding regions where the plant is located. An example of this can be seen in the city of Novovoronezh in Russia. Prior to the construction of its nuclear power plant in the 1960’s, the city was poor and on the verge of economic collapse. After the construction of the plant, the city experienced a resurgence in prosperity and a period of rapid development ensued. Skilled laborers and professionals moved to the city and eventually residents benefited from the development of infrastructure. As of 2015, 25 percent of the city’s budget came from the nuclear power plant. Without the huge increase in funds, the city would not have been able to conduct social development projects such as building schools and hospitals. This increase in social development is what countries in Africa are hoping to gain from the emergence of nuclear power.

As mentioned earlier, one of the industry’s that would surprisingly benefit the most from nuclear energy is healthcare. Nuclear technology make it possible to develop nuclear based medicine that could aid in treatment of many diseases and issues that plague the continent. Example of the benefits include radiation technology for fighting cancer and diagnostic technology for analyzing and diagnosing more severe medical conditions. Modern high tech medicines and medical equipment rely on nuclear energy and by-products to further develop. Without nuclear technology, medical advancements will peak and stagnate as more urgent issues continue to rise throughout the continent.

Although nuclear technology is the next great step in African development, the cost of such development has made it a slow process for many countries to undertake. South Africa currently has plans to develop a 9,600-megawatt reactor. That project would be one of the largest nuclear contracts to emerge in decades. The purpose of the project is two-fold, first it would be to provide cheaper energy on a wider scale, and second it would help lift the South African economy out of recession. But, this is also a double-edged sword. Just as it may pull the economy out of recession it also has an enormous cost which would initially strain the economy to breaking point. The long-term benefits are evident in developing the reactor, but the short-term effects are being debated in depth. Only time will tell on how much progress will emerge from nuclear technology, but as the world continues to grow, so must the technology and development in Africa.

Read More:

Nuclear power as an enabler of innovative development in Africa

South Africa to review nuclear plans in response to recession

South Africa committed to nuclear power expansion, process to be open

South Africa: Nuclear Energy Will Enrich SA, Zuma Says

Uganda Could Become The First African Country To Develop Nuclear Power

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