The Koeberg power station some 30km northwest of Cape Town is currently the only nuclear power plant in South Africa

Russia to build nuclear plant for South Africa

South Africa has signed a $10bn (£6.1bn) deal to procure technology from Russia for up to 9.6GW of new nuclear power capacity.

The agreement has been announced from the sidelines of an International Atomic Energy conference in Vienna.

"This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration," South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in the statement.

South Africa hopes the new plant, to start operating by 2030, will help solve the country’s ongoing energy crises and frequent power outages caused by an earlier lack of investment.

Rosatom director-general Sergey Kirienko said the deal for up to eight nuclear power units could create thousands of jobs and create orders worth $10bn to "local industrial enterprises", although it was not clear if he was referring to Russia or South Africa.

Despite being Africa’s strongest economy, South Africa has been struggling to find resources to fund new energy infrastructure.

State-owned power utility Eskom is scrambling to finish new power plants, including Medupi and Kusile, massive coal-fired outfits with a combined capacity of about 9,500MW that are far from complete.

The country operates only one nuclear power station, which provides around 5 per cent of the country's 42,000MW of installed generating capacity. Nearly all the rest comes from coal.

Other companies have previously shown interest to build nuclear power plants in South Africa including China's Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, Japan's Toshiba and Korea Electric Power.

In a national energy assessment in December, South Africa said it might delay the construction of nuclear power plants and focus instead on coal, hydro and gas as alternative energy sources.

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