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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 06:15 GMT
African power giant seeks nuclear future
Eskom's Koeberg Power Station
Eskom wants to see greater use of nuclear power

Future economic development in Africa will be fuelled increasingly by power provided by nuclear reactors, the head of the continent's largest electricity firm has said.

Reuel Khoza, chairman of South African-based Eskom, said that nuclear power was set to be "progressively important" in meeting customers' electricity needs.

Reuel Khoza, chairman, Eskom
Reuel Khoza: Nuclear dreams
Thanks to research in South Africa, backed by firms including Electricite de France and the UK's BNFL, Eskom was at the "cutting edge of a new [nuclear] technology".

"Nuclear power certainly has a future," Mr Khoza, a delegate at the World Economic Forum's annual summit in Davos, told BBC News Online.

"You cannot wish it away."

While nuclear power has been discredited in some circles by events such as the Chernobyl disaster, Mr Khoza noted that it had been "given greater emphasis" by the administration of George W Bush.

"In France, 80% of electricity produced is nuclear based," Mr Khoza said.

Eskom, the world's seventh largest utility and responsible for supplying Africa with more than half its electricity, was also seeking to boost its reliance on renewable energy sources, he added.

Corruption battle

Demand for Eskom electricity is set to increase with economic growth which, in South Africa at least, has continued despite the slowdown affecting many larger economies.

Mr Khoza credited the country's performance largely to the "sound level" of partnership between government and business.

The country's clean-up after the end of apartheid a decade ago, and continuing efforts to fight corruption, had also spared it the headline scandals which affected firms such as Enron and WorldCom.

"By and large, business and political leadership in South Africa is at a very high level," Mr Khoza said.

An exodus of, typically white and often skilled, workers from South Africa had been spurred by unnecessary concerns over the country's black empowerment programme.

"They have left... because of misperceptions about what the programme is about," he said.

"It is a worry."



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27 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Business
03 Jun 02 | Business
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