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					SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND

ENERGY MS BUYELWA SONJICA AT THE POWERING AFRICA: THE

NUCLEAR OPTION EXECUTIVE MEETING IN CAPE TOWN ON 27

NOVEMBER 2006



Programme Director

Honourable Ministers

Distinguished Guests

Senior Government Officials

Ladies and Gentlemen



Allow me to welcome you to South Africa and indeed to Cape Town and

extend to you, one and all, warm and hearty greetings to this Executive

meeting. I am pleased to see my counterparts from the rest of the continent

and so many other international participants at a time when we are grappling

with issues of expansion of energy supply to the inhabitants of our beloved

continent.



Energy security is indeed one of the most pressing challenges that

Governments in this continent and the world-over have to confront. We all are

fully conscious of the fact that energy security is indispensable to the

maintenance and improvement of the quality of the lives of our people. Whilst

energy demand is increasing, the contribution of some primary energy

sources to climate change presents us with challenges.        There is wide

recognition for the need to diversify energy supply by developing advanced,



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non-polluting,   more    efficient,   affordable   and   cost-effective   energy

technologies, including renewable energy technologies to meet the rising

global demand for energy, particularly in our own developing countries. This

environmental concern has resulted in a number of countries to reconsider the

nuclear energy option for a range of energy applications.           Indeed this

environmental concern has contributed to the renaissance in nuclear energy

worldwide.



I believe that nuclear energy should and must form part of any consideration

of security of supply of energy. The role of Governments in facilitating the

success of nuclear energy is clear. Governments need to provide leadership

including ensuring that clear and unambiguous policies are developed, which

will create an enabling environment for the exploitation of this energy source.



How are we to respond as Africa? We in the continent possess significant

uranium resources, therefore we have to make every effort to ensure that

Africans derive not only monetary value from exports of uranium ore but

actually make use of the energy from this mineral resource. This however is

going to require deliberate and calculated planning on the part of leaders of

the continent. We will require strategic partnerships from those who have

extensive nuclear programmes. I need to emphasise the “partnerships”

because we will be looking for mutual benefit. South Africa is indeed poised to

make a decision on a significant nuclear energy programme as part of the

new investment into new electricity generation capacity. We are already busy

with the PBMR, this implies that we are interested in new forms of energy.



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A nuclear energy programme requires extensive infrastructure and huge

investment in skills. I believe that for this continent it may be beneficial for

regional approaches to be adopted in building this infrastructure. At the 50th

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, we

announced that South Africa was considering the establishment of a Regional

Nuclear and Radiation Safety Regulatory Forum to assist in strengthening

regulatory effectiveness on a regional basis. The aims of this forum would be

to ensure the strengthening of regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, as well

as harmonisation of safety standards in the region.



The National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) is already engaged

in preliminary discussions with their Nigerian counterparts on how such a

forum can be constituted. Surely we will consult so that there is consensus as

to how this forum will be constituted. As part of regional capacity building, we

will be hosting the post graduate course in Radiation Protection which will

begin in July next year. We are also in discussions with the IAEA about

hosting a regional physical protection (security) course during the course of

2007.   These are small contributions that we want to make to nuclear

infrastructure development in the continent.



Through the African Regional Co-operative Agreement (AFRA), we have

already demonstrated that in working together, we can achieve a lot more

progress in this sector. We have made strides in the promotion of national

and regional self-reliance in nuclear science and technology, the conditioning



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and safe storage of spent radium medium sources and the auditing of nuclear

medicine and radiotherapy facilities as Africans.



The Achilles heel of nuclear energy has always been around issues of long-

term Radioactive Waste Management. I would venture to say that technical

solutions for radioactive waste management exist and have been proven.

What is required is the political will to make decisions and the incorporation of

the views of the members of the public, in doing so. This can be very

challenging.   There is much concern about this activity, especially with

environmental activists.



Last year we published the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and

Strategy. We are now finalising the drafting of one of the pieces of legislation

that will give effect to the policy provisions. I am pleased to announce here,

for the first time, that with the approval of the President and our Parliament,

South Africa has recently deposited to the IAEA, the instrument of accession

to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the

Safety of Radioactive Waste management. These two developments should

serve as a strong signal that as Government, we are serious about dealing

with Radioactive Waste Management.



One aspect of nuclear energy that cannot be overemphasised is the need for

all countries to adhere to their obligations in terms of the Non Proliferation

Treaty. We have to leave no doubt that as we embark on nuclear energy

programmes, they are solely for peaceful purposes. Having said that, I need



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to reiterate the fact that concerns over proliferation should not be used to

deny others the opportunity of deriving benefits from this technology.        An

international debate on fuel cycle facilities has already started and we need to

involve ourselves in this debate in order to ensure that the result is equitable.

Perhaps, it is time that we work collectively towards ensuring that the

Pelindaba Treaty does come into force to further illustrate our commitment to

peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As Africa we need this technology.



Let me thank the organisers, principally, EnergyNet Limited and our sponsors

for putting together this meeting. I believe that we will have more meetings of

this nature in other parts of the continent. The programme indeed covers a

wide range of topics. In the discussions, I hope that the issues of radioactive

waste management will also be deliberated upon.        I also have to thank our

sponsors. You are indeed investing in the future of this continent.



As I conclude, I need to make an apology. I have just returned from a trip

abroad specifically to be in this meeting however I have to leave this evening

for the final leg of my month long international engagements. I therefore will

not be able to enjoy the evening dinner with you.



I wish you success in the deliberations and let us work towards ensuring that

Africa’s renaissance is anchored in AFRICA forming an integral part of the

expansion of the nuclear energy sector.



I thank you.



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