South Africa Awaits Treasury, IPP Office for Nuclear Go-Ahead

South Africa’s Department of Energy is awaiting approval from the National Treasury and independent power producers’ office before it releases a request for proposals to build nuclear power-generation capacity, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said.

Using the responses to the request, which the department said it would publish by the end of March, the government will determine the state of readiness of the country’s nuclear institutions and develop a funding model that will still have to win cabinet approval, Energy Director General Thabane Zulu said last month. The Democratic Alliance, the nation’s biggest opposition party, said Wednesday that the country’s plan to to add 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power to the grid “has been stalled indefinitely,” citing Joemat-Petterson, who was addressing parliament’s portfolio committee on the subject.

"We are working with the independent power producers’ office, and I have said it before, they are interrogating the request for proposals and this doesn’t mean that it is stalled -- it may be delayed,” Joemat-Pettersson said by phone. “I want a thorough and transparent procurement process subjected to proper scrutiny. The process must not be stalled due to legal process or challenges. As soon as the IPP Office and the National Treasury are satisfied, then the RFP will be issued.”

President Jacob Zuma first announced plans in February 2014 to add build nuclear-power capacity to address energy shortages in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. While the government has declined to reveal the expected cost because the contracts are still being negotiated, estimates range from $37 billion to $100 billion. The cabinet approved the start of the nuclear-energy procurement program at its Dec. 9 meeting.

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