Atoms for Africa

Is There a Future for Civil Nuclear Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa?


Koeberg nuclear power station in South Africa; currently the only nuclear power station on the entire African continent.

April 18, 2018 | Jessica Lovering, Omaro Maseli, Aishwarya Saxena, Abigail Eyram Sah,

In a new paper commissioned by the Center for Global Development, Breakthrough Institute analysts tackled the question of whether nuclear energy has a future in sub-Saharan Africa.

Policymakers are beginning to consider next generation nuclear power to meet some of the continent’s energy demand. This has enormous potential to provide a clean baseload of energy, minimizing carbon emissions while simultaneously alleviating energy deficits. Significant challenges remain, like high capital cost, long timelines, weak institutions, and proliferation concerns. But there is reason for optimism: innovative nuclear technologies could vastly improve the feasibility of widespread nuclear power in the African continent. With new designs, African countries can leapfrog over the large-scale, traditional light-water nuclear technologies to nuclear technology that is smaller, modular, more flexible, and overall more appropriate.

This paper outlines the current status of nuclear deployment in Africa, explores the challenges that remain, and summarizes new ways to move forward. Download the full report here.


Abigail Sah

Abigail Sah graduated with an M.S. in Energy Science, Technology & Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. She was a Breakthrough Generation Fellow in 2017. 


Jessica Lovering

Jessica Lovering is Director of Energy at Breakthrough. She co-authored the report How to Make Nuclear Cheap as well as many analyses on nuclear energy policy. @J_Lovering


Omaro Maseli

Omaro Maseli graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the London School of Economics and is currently in the process of completing a dual master’s degree between Sciences Po Paris and the University of Tokyo in public policy, specializing in energy. She was a Breakthrough Generation Fellow in 2017. @OmaroMaseli.


Aishwarya Saxena

Aishwarya Saxena is pursuing a Master of Laws at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a graduate of the International School of Nuclear Law and has earned a diploma in nuclear law from the University of Montpelier. 


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