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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK
Guinea in nuclear energy ambition
By Will Ross
BBC West Africa correspondent

Uranium ore
Guinea wants to take advantage of its discovery of uranium deposits
The west African state of Guinea is the latest country in Africa to announce that it is seeking nuclear power.

It follows the discovery of significant deposits of the nuclear fuel uranium earlier this month.

The government has said it wants to start talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Power cuts are a major hindrance to development in Africa which is home to 16% of the world's population but generates just 4% of its electricity.

When a government spokesman appeared on state television to announce Guinea's intention to seek nuclear power many people would have missed the news altogether because of yet another power cut - a poignant demonstration of the need to increase the country's power supply.

Power crisis

Although several countries are keen to explore nuclear energy, South Africa is currently the only nuclear energy producer in sub Saharan Africa.

Young Guineans study under the dim parking lot lights
Many have no access to electricity, like these students in a car park
Whilst there are concerns around the world over the safety of nuclear energy, Africa does need a solution to a power crisis.

Rapid urbanisation and a reliance on poorly maintained hydro power plants coupled with unreliable rainfall mean the problem is going to get worse.

Several African countries are building or planning to build new hydro-electric dams and for many Africans sitting in the dark, the vast potential of the Congo river provides some hope.

With an abundance of sunshine, solar energy seems an obvious solution in Africa but so far it has been largely ignored, partly because of high set-up costs.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Guinea
21 May 07 |  Country profiles

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