France wants to help Kenya achieve its nuclear energy ambition

France today indicated interest in helping Kenya actualize its dream of building Africa biggest nuclear plant from 2022.

Although, France is a world leader in nuclear energy and boasts third generation reactors known as European pressurised reactors (EPR), whose technology is owned by French giant Areva reactors, the proposed deal might not go smoothly.

France is one of the five after China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia, which had earlier indicated interest in manpower development and skill exchange.

But unlike other suitors, France has promised not only technical support but to help in alleviating the financial burden estimated to cost Kenya over $5billion dollars.

The multi billion dollar deal will make the eastern country, the second only Africa country with a nuclear reactor after South Africa.

Although the planned reactor is still a work in progress, the reactor will not only rival the already two in South Africa but will also be the biggest to meet the growing electricity demand in the country.

Speaking today, French Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin said the nuclear-rich European country was looking to offer Kenya technical, engineering and financial support to develop reactors.

Mr Sapin said that France was seeking pacts with Nairobi like the ones it entered with South Africa on nuclear power development.

“We have expressed our readiness to support the construction of the plants. Our support involves everything from expertise to funding,” Mr Sapin said on Sunday after concluding his two-day visit to Kenya during which he presided over the return of Peugeot assembly to Kenya.

Kenya’s first proposed reactor will have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW), which is equivalent to 42 per cent of the country’s current installed electricity capacity.

While there are concerns about the proposed reactor’s safety, The Institute of Science and Technology of the University of Nairobi director, David Maina lauded the initiative. In a resolute manner, has advised the African Union, to invest more in this area. In addition, Maina proposes East Africa to be responsible for its development, which would make the region “a generator of skilled jobs for Africans.”

France has over the years signed several pacts with South Africa whose two power plants were built by French firm Areva.

Energy experts from Italy and Germany last October, however, advised Kenya to drop plans to build nuclear reactors and instead harness its vast renewable energy resources for power generation.

They reckoned that Kenya is better off developing more geothermal wells, solar parks and wind farms.