Alweendo: Government investigates going nuclear

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Alweendo: Government investigates going nuclear

Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo has confirmed that government is looking at the possibility of introducing nuclear energy as an additional power source for Namibia. 

This is as the country still imports the majority of its energy needs from neighbouring countries through the Southern African Power Pool. 

 “We cannot rely on a single energy mix to address the energy concerns, and Namibia has not abandoned nuclear energy. This is an energy option that we are considering in the medium term. We were instructed to study if nuclear energy would be possible,” said Alweendo this week while defending his ministry’s budget in the National Assembly. 

However, the minister warned that
nuclear energy is not cheap, but is reliable. 

He was responding to queries from parliamentarians that Namibia is the world’s second-largest uranium producer, but ironically, the country remains confronted with a persistent power supply deficiency, which sees it annually importing some 70% of its electricity.  This is as government has articulated a policy position to supply its own electricity from nuclear power. But so far, there is no evident progress towards this end-goal.

Responding to earlier New Era queries regarding the nuclear option, the ministry stated that reasons the country still does not use its own uranium resources to solve its energy import crisis boils down to economic, technological, regulatory, environmental and financial reasons. This, the ministry said, is coupled with a lack of general demand in the region. 

Meanwhile, lawmaker Tjekero Tweya showed his frustration with the fact that Namibia has the natural resource, but has no plan to make use of it, and only knows how to export uranium.

“We have uranium, and our electricity prices are really a concern. Even now, NamPower is requesting for another electricity tariff hike. This is a concern that needs urgent intervention,” parliamentarian Veikko Nekundi contributed. 

One of the pioneers of nuclear energy, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom last month stated that if all goes according to plan, they will construct a floating nuclear power plant for Namibia in the near future.

Viktor Riedel, Rosatom’s country manager, said the nuclear option for Namibia is not for the short-term, and pending approval, could take up to six years. This would be after all relevant consultations with stakeholders to ensure that all parties pull in the same direction.


Resource ownership

Meanwhile, Alweendo, was further questioned on why Namibia has minimal ownership of her natural resources.

“Will it do any harm if government increases her ownership in mining companies? Can the Assembly amend the Act to assist the ministry in this regard? asked MP Jerry Ekandjo.

“We are reviewing the Act, and we are making a proposal to say because the natural resources belong to the Namibian people, we should also have a provision where it’s not really by negotiation but by getting up a minimum threshold which government can have ownership in her resources,” Alweendo explained.