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Industry News

South Africa Pushes Nuclear Power

LCG, Nov. 15, 2001--South African Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, addressing a three-day African seminar on nuclear energy, said nuclear technology had been stigmatized in her country, with some people believing it to be "very evil," despite evidence to the contrary.

The fact is, Mlambo-Ngcuka said, nuclear energy has contributed every day to a better quality of life for the country's citizens in a wide variety of fields.

A report by the South African Press Association quoted Mlambo-Ngcuka as saying that one of the greatest injustices to befall South Africa's nuclear technology sector was its development in an era when security and secrecy where the order of the day.

"We now face the challenge of ... bringing the sector out into the open, demystifying it and ensuring the impact it can have in our developing nations," she said. "In South Africa, we all know how much secrecy there was in this sector... feeding into the mind-set that this must be something very evil."

Mlambo-Ngcuka said South Africans had to recognize nuclear technology was a fact in their everyday lives, and had been for the past 50 years. It was used in the treatment of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, had led to productivity improvements in industry and agriculture, and contributed to scientific advances in many fields, she said, and was a key factor in the fight against the tsetse fly.

The seminar, which ends today in Cape Town, comes at a time when the South African government is striving to expand the role of nuclear technology, the minister said. "In South Africa, at this point in time, our focus is on the pebble bed modular reactor," she observed. "It is recognized world-wide as a leading innovation in nuclear technology."

The seminar, "Serving Human Needs: Nuclear Energy and Technology for Africa ," was co-hosted by Mlambo-Ngcuka's ministry and the international Atomic Energy Agency. According to Mlambo-Ngcuka, its focus was on "informing people how the needs of the continent can be addressed using nuclear technology,"

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