Updated 8:22 p.m. Moscow Time
VIENNA, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and South Africa have signed an intergovernmental agreement for a strategic partnership in the nuclear energy sector opening the possibility of the construction of nuclear reactors in South Africa with the use of Russian technologies, state nuclear corporation Rosatom said Monday.
"The agreement creates a basis for the development of South Africa's program on construction of nuclear power plants equipped with Russian VVER-type reactors with total generating capacity of up to 9.6 GWt (up to eight units)," a Rosatom spokesman told RIA Novosti.
"Those would be the first nuclear power plants on the African continent using Russian technology," the official said.
The agreement was signed by Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko and South African Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Aside from the construction of nuclear reactors, the agreement also provides for mutually beneficial cooperation in other areas of the nuclear industry, including the construction of a multi-purpose research reactor using Russian technologies, assistance in the development of the South African nuclear energy sector and the training of South African specialists in Russian educational institutions.
"I am convinced that cooperation with Russia will help South Africa to attain all the necessary expertise to carry out this ambitious program. Rosatom is ready to assist South Africa in creating a full-fledged world class industrial cluster from the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle to engineering and equipment production. Subsequently, it will contribute to the implementation of joint projects in third countries. But first, this cooperation will create favorable conditions for thousands of new jobs and up to $ 10 billion worth new local contracts," Kiriyenko said.
South Africa currently has two nuclear reactors generating 5 percent of its electricity. The government wants the nuclear energy industry to contribute to 25 percent of electricity needs by 2030. The 2010 Integrated Resource Plan envisages the construction of 9,600 MWatts of new nuclear power capacity, by a program of between six and eight new nuclear power plants.