The Federal Government is in talks with a Russia-owned firm, Rosatom, to build nuclear power plants in the country in order to end decades of blackout that has blighted the Nigerian economy, according to a report by Reuters. Nigeria has no experience in developing and operating nuclear power plants but has a gamma facility and small reactors producing around 30 kilowatts for research, the Chief Executive, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Franklin Osaisai, said on the agency’s website, adding that nuclear power would guarantee long-term energy supply. “We have an intergovernmental agreement with Nigeria, but no concrete decisions have been made,” a Rosatom spokesman said.
One nuclear power plant costs between $5bn and $8bn, a source at the company said. About 80 per cent of Nigeria’s power plants are gas-fired. Rosatom has a contract to build a new plant in Hungary and has agreed to build reactors in India and Kazakhstan. It is also planning to build more reactors in Iran in addition to the Russia-built Bushehr plant, Iran’s first nuclear facility, launched there in 2011. Rosatom’s investment programme, sourced from the state budget, allows it to spend about $300bn to $350bn per year to build nuclear plants in Russia and abroad, a business that has been hit by global safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Nigeria, with a population of around 170 million, has installed power capacity that fluctuates between 6,000 megawatts and 7,000MW, according to the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
South Africa’s capacity is almost seven times greater for a population less than a third as big. Nigeria broke up its monopoly on power generation and distribution by privatising the sector two-years ago, hoping to attract foreign investors. But the amount of power produced has stagnated at around half the total capacity. Some of the older plants, sold in October 2013, are in dire need of an upgrade, while the fledgling generating firms lack the cash as distributors struggle with non-paying consumers and inadequate gas supplies required to keep the plants running.