One Planet: Powering Africa’s Future

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If you are crazy about nuclear power in Africa, please check out the BBC’s series on this topic coming up Dec 4. Please check out the below notes or follow the attached link to learn more.

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Africa is searching for future sources of energy. Vera Kwakofi looks at whether the continent should go nuclear or use solar power.

If you’ve ever flown over Africa at night, there’s no escaping the fact that it is a continent of darkness.  Lights twinkle only around the northern and southern tips of the continent. That’s because only one in three of Africa’s 700 million people has electricity, and in the countryside only one in ten has light at the flick of a switch.

After years of underinvestment in its energy sectors, Africa is suddenly at an energy crossroads. It has to bring desperately-needed power to students forced to close their books when the sun goes down and to the girls and women who, every single day, spend hours scavenging for firewood.

Even where there is power, frequent blackouts are crippling economic and social development.  So which way will the continent head? As the world once again turns its attention to nuclear energy as an answer to rising demands and fears over carbon emissions, should uranium-rich Africa become part of this nuclear renaissance? Or should the continent look to what are arguably some of greatest natural assets: the powerful African sun and the thundering geothermal energy bubbling away under the huge Rift Valley stretching through east Africa.

Part One
Vera Kwakofi travels to Africa’s only nuclear country, South Africa, to investigate the development of a new generation of nuclear reactors designed to meet Africa’s specific needs. She also visits Namibia, where the government is determined to exploit vast uranium resources and go nuclear.

Part Two
Vera turns to renewable energy, visiting Africa’s largest solar farm in Rwanda to explore the role of sun in powering up remote communities. In Kenya, it’s what’s below the earth – the Rift Valley’s geothermal power – that is attracting foreign investor interest.

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