The Rwandan government signed an agreement on Tuesday with a German-Canadian start-up to build an “experimental” civil nuclear reactor, in order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
The reactor will be ready for testing in 2026, according to the start-up that will build it, Dual Fluid Energy.
These “reactors can be used to produce electricity, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels at lower costs than fossil fuels,” Dual Fluid Energy CEO Gotz Ruprecht said at a conference. press office in Kigali.
The use of nuclear power will provide "a stable and reliable source of electricity, reducing dependence on hydrocarbons and helping to meet the growing demand for energy", said Infrastructure Minister Ernest Nsabimama.
Rwanda signed a deal in 2019 to build nuclear power plants in collaboration with Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency Rosatom, sparking strong opposition due to concerns over security.
The leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza, deemed the agreement with Dual Fluid Energy "dangerous". There is “no big difference between what Dual Fluid Energy wants to do and what Russia and the Rwandan government wanted to do in 2019,” he told AFP.
“No study can convince me that there is a place in this country where a reactor or a nuclear power plant can be built without endangering the population,” he said.
“Our test reactor is a small device with low combustion and therefore contains little nuclear material. For this reason, it poses no threat to the environment,” assured the Rwanda Atomic Energy Office and Dual Fluid Energy in a joint press release.
South Africa is the only country on the continent to have a civil nuclear program, with two reactors in service for more than 30 years.