Any commitment to a nuclear build programme would need to be “mapped out in detail” and should be fully compliant legally and must draw on international best practices, according to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
DA energy spokesperson Gordon Mackay asked the minister if the national treasury had been consulted on financing options before the department of energy embarked upon signing nuclear co-operation framework agreements “with different countries” relating to the proposed 9 600MW build programme.
In a written reply, Nene didn’t directly answer the question, but reported instead that there had been ongoing engagement between government departments.
“Government is undertaking a careful and thorough analysis of financing options to ensure the affordability and long-term sustainability of the fiscus and financial soundness of a state-owned entity like Eskom,” he reported.
Government has already earmarked Eskom to manage any new nuclear plants built in South Africa. It is already responsible for the Koeberg nuclear plant, north of Cape Town.
“This work is taking place under the auspices of the Nuclear energy Technical Committee led by the department of energy,” he said, noting that it included representatives from various departments including national treasury.
This committee provided technical support to the national nuclear energy executive co-ordinating committee (NNEECC) “which has subsequently been converted into the Energy Security Cabinet Sub-committee”, said Nene.
Asked by MacKay whether his ministry had been informed of the details of the nuclear build procurement process and by what date this procurement would be finalised, Nene said: “The work is still underway.”
“National treasury has highlighted the importance of undertaking a thorough assessment given that it would be a substantial financial commitment and that the procurement process to be followed must be mapped out in detail, fully compliant legally and drawing on international best practices,” stated Nene.