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September 24, 2017

Russia eyes deal to build Kenya's sole nuclear plant

Rosatom International network sub Saharan Africa regional vice president Viktor Polikarpov during nuclear energy briefing in Nairobi on March13,2017.
Rosatom International network sub Saharan Africa regional vice president Viktor Polikarpov during nuclear energy briefing in Nairobi on March13,2017. PHOTO/ENOS TECHE.

Russia has offered to design, finance and build Kenya’s proposed nuclear power plant.

A delegation from Russia will pitch tent in Nairobi for the regional nuclear energy conference which kicks off today.

Russia is seeking to strike a deal through its state-owned Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. Kenya plans to set up four nuclear plants, with the first expected to be switched on in 2027.

On May 30, 2016, Rosatom signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya to promote nuclear solutions, assist in training personnel, create public awareness, and design agriculture and medical solutions.

Rosatom regional vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa Viktor Polikarpov yesterday said the Moscow-based entity, through the government, is ready to support Kenya put up its plants on a Build–Operate–Transfer module or Private-Public-Partnership consortium.

Rosatom said it will borrow a loan through an intergovernmental agreement, with a repayment period of up to 25 years. The firm is the only reactor vendor in the world that can offer the nuclear industry’s entire range of products and services.

“We are currently providing the VVER-1200 (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) generation III reactor which is the safest in the world. We can offer the preferred solution to your government if given a chance,” Polikarpov told journalists.

Cost estimates for new nuclear power plant range between $4 billion (Sh410.4 billion) per unit to $9 billion (Sh923.4 billion).

Kenya plans to generate 1,000 megawatts of power from nuclear energy by 2025 to sustain its socio-economic development. A plant with three or four reactors is capable of producing 3,000MW.

Nuclear energy, wind, geothermal and coal are projected to expand installed capacity to 19,000MW by 2030 from the current of 2,327MW.

Kenya has also signed MoUs with China and South Korea but is yet to identify a developer for the project which could cost up to Sh2 trillion. The developer will be selected by the Kenya Nuclear Energy Board.

The nuclear conference taking place this week will bring together government officials, local and international energy experts, manufacturers and energy utilities.

The forum will shed light on Kenya's nuclear power programme and provide a platform for better understanding of its role in the energy mix.

Rosatom Africa business development manager Zakhele Madela said: “Kenya’s ambitious industrialisation goals need massive energy. Nuclear energy will be the best if you want to secure a base. You cannot continue relying on renewables.”

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