South Africa can’t afford nuclear: Gigaba

South Africa will not build any new nuclear power stations in the near future due to the weak economy and a surplus supply of electricity.

This is according to finance minister Malusi Gigaba, who was speaking on the release of his medium-term budget policy statement on Wednesday.

However, Gigaba said that he would consider a new fleet once the economy recovers, and that a nuclear programme was not officially off the table.

“Nuclear is not off the agenda. The point I have emphasized is that the country and the budget cannot afford it,” Gigaba said.

“When the economy is performing well and there are up-takers of electricity, we will take the decision at that time.”

Nuclear power has been thrust into the spotlight after President Jacob Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle which saw him appoint close ally David Mahlobo as minister of energy.

The new nuclear build programme is likely to be a top priority for Mahlobo; however, SA’s nuclear energy policy has been mired in uncertainty, with opposition parties, energy experts and NGOs worried about the cost, which is projected at as much as R1 trillion and beyond.

Read: Malusi Gigaba’s maiden budget in a nutshell

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South Africa can’t afford nuclear: Gigaba