Russia to move in on Nam’s nuclear energy

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Russia to move in on Nam’s nuclear energy

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 19, 2018

    Timo Shihepo

    Windhoek – The Russian government is hoping to conclude bilateral agreements with Namibia aimed at constructing a nuclear power plant in the southern African country.  

    The idea to construct a nuclear power plant with the aim to generate nuclear energy for safe use was first mooted about a decade ago but nothing concrete has happened due to the absence of agreements.

    The delay could also be attributed to a 10-year moratorium on new applications for exploration licences on nuclear fuel minerals, which was only lifted in January 2017.

    Before the ban, Namibia had emerged as a new frontier for uranium investors, with local and international companies alike rushing in with applications for uranium prospecting and mining in the country. The moratorium, however, stopped all that.  

    The two governments have, however, this week confirmed that the deal is back on the table with Russia’s foreign affairs minister, Sergei Lavrov meeting Namibia’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in Windhoek.

    Lavrov said his country has a keen interest in developing Namibia’s nuclear energy and going as far as constructing a nuclear power plant.

    “Yes, I can confirm that we are really interested in Namibia’s uranium. In this area, we welcome the agreements between our respective companies. Russian officials are communicating with Namibian officials to finalise the agreement on nuclear energy. We are engaging so that we use modern technologies aimed at constructing a nuclear power plant in Namibia.”

    Nandi-Ndaitwah said she welcomes the ongoing negotiations between Namibia and Russia to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. She said that Namibia has lifted its moratorium on uranium and as such the implementation of joint projects in exploration, mining and processing of uranium ore in the country can commence.

    “Namibia and Russia are both well-endowed with natural resources.  Russia is an important and permanent member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. Your country is also an important player in nuclear technology.  

    “We thank you for supporting Namibia’s application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and look forward to your continued support as we position ourselves for optimised benefits from this natural endowment,” she told Lavrov.

    Apart from nuclear energy, the two countries are also looking at implementing specific agreements in several areas such as agriculture, education, mining, and military.

    The two countries are also working on the draft agreement on extradition and transfer of prisoners.

    “We welcome the efforts by the joint commission on fisheries. The next meeting is scheduled for this year in an effort to create a joint venture. There are specific plans in the areas of transport. We are looking at railways and civil aviation. We have a working group on military cooperation. In tourism, we have welcomed a new joint venture between the Russian company and the Namibian company. The project is very promising,” said Lavrov.

    Nandi-Ndaitwah, who chaired co-chaired the Seventh Session of the Namibia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission in November last year, added that drawing from the warm spirit that has become the norm in the engagements at the Commission, they both agreed on the imperative need to enhance the implementation of bilateral agreements concluded between the two countries.   

    “I, therefore, look forward to exchanging views on our bilateral cooperation as well as on issues of mutual political and diplomatic concerns.”

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