Johannesburg - Nuclear energy would help Africa realise its
energy security goals, the energy minister said in Johannesburg on Thursday.
"We cannot, because we are black, end up having a dark
continent," Dipuo Peters said at a business breakfast hosted by The New
South Africa was rich in uranium reserves that could be used
to create an abundance of energy.
"God gave us these resources and we must use
them," she said.
Africa needed to take a proactive role and would not be
bystanders in the energy revolution.
Earlier in the week, Greenpeace activists protested against
the expansion of the nuclear energy on the continent and claimed Peters had not
adequately responded to their concerns. Peters said she believed further
engagement was needed, but felt the environmental group was not prepared to
"(Greenpeace) don't want nuclear, you don't want hydro,
coal. It's important they understand we are an energy intense economy."
Peters said President Jacob Zuma had given her the mandate
to "demystify" nuclear power to overcome public concerns. Aspects of
nuclear technology were already used in hospitals, desalination plants, and in
The government was also in the final stages of establishing
a nuclear waste management institute, which would keep the public informed of
measures to deal with nuclear by-products.
Concerns about fracking, or hydrolic fracturing, to extract
shale gas reserves needed to be overcome through research and technology.
"We cannot allow a blessing to lie fallow... If shale
gas is one of the blessings, we are going to go for it," Peters said.
It was essential, however, that the process was not rushed.
The technology involved in fracking was established in other countries, such as
Australia and the United States, and similar to that used in processing gold.
Means of extracting the shale gas safely would benefit the people of the Karoo,
Asked about the tender processes associated with the
expansion of the nuclear industry, Peters appeared amused at South Africa's
preoccupation with tenders.
"Why should we always be tenderising everything?"