Nuclear Power Skills Training Underway In South Africa Vendor-Country Wannabes

By Dana Sanchez Published: July 16, 2015, 12:45 pm
Koeberg nuclear station Photo: Eskom

South Africa hasn’t said what country — or countries — it has chosen as vendors to build up to eight new nuclear power stations, but skills development is already underway in some vendor-wannabe countries.

South Africa plans this month to launch its nuclear power procurement process and some countries that want to be considered as vendors are dangling scholarships in nuclear training for South African students.

Several vendor countries that expressed interest in South Africa’s new-build nuclear power program South Africa have signed intergovernmental agreements. These include China, France, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. Negotiations are underway to conclude agreements with Canada and Japan, the ministry said in a prepared statement.

South Africa plans to build six-to-eight nuclear power plants, with the first new nuclear power station coming on line in 2023. Nuclear power should represent 23 percent of the country’s energy source by 2030, according to a statement.

The bid invitation specs and related evaluation criteria will be finalized by the end of July, according to Zizamele Mbambo, South Africa’s deputy director-general for nuclear energy.

Skills development activities have started

Fifty students went to China for nuclear training in April and South Africa plans to send an additional 250 in 2015, according to SouthAfrica.info. South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation of China entered a skills development agreement.

Russia offered 10 new scholarships for master’s degree programs in nuclear technology and agreed to train and develop 200 South African candidates at Russian universities and educational institutions.

South Korea has an existing program to train South African students for master’s degrees in nuclear engineering. Three students have graduated so far.

France offered 14 bursaries for young people of disadvantaged groups. A this four-year engineering program at various universities provides young professionals with skills to support South Africa’s nuclear new build program, the ministry said. South African nuclear engineers will also get to work in France.

Necsa has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Électricité de France, a French electric utility company, largely owned by the French government, on skills development. The agreement could result in the establishment of a nuclear campus in South Africa, the ministry said.

The South African government has yet to negotiate the price tag in the procurement process which is why exact figures for the study cannot be made public, Mbambo said.=

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