Nuclear Energy in Africa: Regional Initiatives for Expansion

Barnard, Michelle
February 2014
Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law;Feb2014, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p59
Academic Journal
The African continent's energy situation is characterised by below-average levels of access to electricity and an above-average dependence on traditional biomass as a primary household energy source - a situation widely referred to as energy poverty. The negative economic, social and environmental impacts of energy poverty have proved to be the driving force behind the African Union's (AU) efforts to promote the implementation of a diversified modern energy mix. Various regional initiatives at the AU level identify nuclear energy as forming part of a sustainable energy future for the continent. The implementation of nuclear energy at the AU level will depend largely upon member states' cooperation on formulating harmonised nuclear energy policies and programmes as part of an integrated regional nuclear legal framework. This process should take place in accordance with international standards set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This leads to the main research question, namely to what extent have existing AU nuclear energy legal instruments and/or initiatives contributed to the expansion of nuclear energy in Africa? To this end, the article will focus on: the relationship between nuclear energy and the promotion of sustainable development in the AU; the importance of establishing a regional nuclear legal framework with reference to specific AU initiatives; as well as an overview of the IAEA international nuclear legal framework. The article will conclude with recommendations surrounding the research question.


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