Namibia last week offered to supply nuclear fuel to India. Namibia’s offer is second to the offer from Niger, another uranium-rich African country, which offered last week to supply nuclear fuel to India, which aims to ramp up its nuclear power base within a decade.
The offers were made at the bilateral meetings that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had with visiting African leaders, who were in New Delhi for the India-Africa partnership forum. Swaraj discussed the nuclear deal with Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
India currently imports uranium from four countries, including Russia. The uranium-supply issue also featured at the meeting that Modi had with Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou. While negotiations are on with two of the largest producers – Canada and Australia – New Delhi is exploring the option of finding out new sources, because of its ambitious nuclear energy programme.
“The Namibian minister informed Swaraj that the African nation is setting up a national company with which commercial negotiations for uranium could be initiated,” said Sanjiv Kohli, a joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) who looks after West Africa.
India’s domestic uranium is inadequate, even to fully feed the indigenous small and mid-size reactors. As the nuclear power corporation of India plans larger units of 700-900 MW capacity, the search is on for more uranium sources.
Each 220 MW unit needs 45 tonnes of uranium oxide fuel every year to run it at 85 percent capacity. The requirement is 100 tonnes for each 540 MW units and 125 tonnes for 700 Mwe units. Six 700 MW units are currently under construction. Modi had 19 bilateral meetings with African leaders, which MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup termed as unprecedented.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was also in New Delhi and more bilateral talks were slated on the sidelines of the summit.
– Deccan Herald