Angola takes first steps towards nuclear power

7 May 2007

Luanda, Angola, 7 May – Angola is taking its first steps towards becoming a producer of nuclear power, which is the solution the authorities are pointing to in order to decisively increase the country’s power capacity, but the country has rejected the idea of developing nuclear weapons.

“The country has limitation in the production of electricity, so why not start thinking of projects that in future could produce power from nuclear sources?” the minister of Science and Technology, João Baptista Ngandajina, recently asked.

Angola has been a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1999 and the country’s Nuclear Energy Law is now being finalized and should soon arrive in parliament.

As soon as it is approved, the institutional conditions will be created for the production of nuclear power in the country, but the government has noted that the priority is research projects and staff training.

The new law, Nganadajina said, “will define everything about the acquisition, transmission, use and storage of radioactive knowledge and equipment here in the country.”

“What we plan to do here is the scientific development linked to nuclear energy. Staff training, development of projects that help the economic and social development of the country,” he said.

However, in the country’s power sector there have been rumors that the creation of the Law is related to the preparation of a plan to set up nuclear power plants in the country, which is supported by the People’s Republic of China, an important partner for Angola and one of the world’s largest producers of nuclear power.

China itself is moving ahead with an ambitious plan to increase power production at nuclear plants, which by 2020 is expected to see the country reach an installed capacity of 409 million kilowatts, or four time current levels.

Question by the press, Ngandajina added that radioactive deposits had already been identified in the country, such as uranium, but declined to say in which regions they had been found.

Last year, Angola invested around US$650 million in projects aimed at ensuring an increase in production, focusing mainly on boosting the capacity of the network and construction of dams, for which it has had the support of China and Brazil.

Amongst the main projects underway are those of the Capanda and Ganjelas hydroelectric dams, the latter of which is being built by Chinese company Sino-hydro Corp, and is due to be concluded in May.

According to Ngandajina, the focus on nuclear technology in Angola will initially be on research and development, as well as on encouraging civil projects, via Agostinho Neto University.

“A laboratory has been set up to teach nuclear physics. (…) All of this aims to provide the country with the capacity to achieve its aims,” said the Angolan minister.

Ngandajina noted the opportunity presented by this technology to train and specialize doctors at the National Oncology Center, and for projects in the area of controlling animal diseases and combating malaria and other illnesses.

Angola currently has projects underway linked to controlling marine pollution associated to oil production, and is part of the AEA programs for Africa. (macauhub)