Two hundred South Africans heading to Russia to train as nuclear engineers

Russia-658x370Late last year the South African government controversially revealed that it has potentially signed a nuclear partnership deal with Russia, that would see the country construct nuclear power plants in SA to the tune of R1.2 trillion.

Those nuclear power plants need to be staffed by someone, and that is why the Department of Energy announced today that it will send 200 South Africans to Russia to train in all the various aspects on running such sensitive equipment.

“Both parties will strive to realize education programs for 200 South African candidates at Russian universities and educational organizations. This Memorandum also stipulates the development of educational materials and scientific literature on nuclear power, student exchange programs for students of various levels of training, organization of internships and summer courses, student competitions and teacher training,” it said in statement.

In a bid to get the public on board the country’s nuclear ambitions, it will also embark on an education drive to ensure “public acceptance” of the technology.

“The second Memorandum.. stipulates joint efforts of the parties aimed at promoting nuclear power in South Africa, increasing the awareness of local residents of modern nuclear technologies used in the power industry and in other industries, and ensuring public acceptance of nuclear power,” the statement continues.

Coupled with that, it will also create a Nuclear Energy Information Centre in South Africa, where it wants to “exchange information and best practices in the nuclear industry by organizing working visits and international conferences and exhibitions.”

The initial agreement was met with some strong opposition, not least from Lance Greyling, the DA’s spokesman on energy.

“We have serious concerns about this agreement. This deal may also undermine South Africa’s bilateral commitments on nuclear energy with other nations and would indeed act against South Africa’s national interest, limiting our ability to effectively negotiate and procure nuclear capacity from other nations,” he said at the time.

While the decision has been taken to send the engineers to Russia, the full nuclear procurement program has yet to be confirmed by government, although bidding for tenders that could be worth a trillion rand are due to start this quarter.


SciBraai, a proudly South African NPO dedicated to science journalism, communication and outreach. SciBraai began on Heritage Day 2013 - Anina Mumm and Engela Duvenage in 2013 launched the website,, to feature stories about South African research, technology and innovation, and the people behind the discoveries. This blog welcomes all South Africans to go behind the scenes of local science and exploration endeavors. It’s a place to share stories about the scientists themselves and the interesting, little-known activities that are often left out of research journals. A place to learn more about the stuff that makes South African science and its people tick. A place to feel inspired about what South Africans are discovering on home soil and abroad. Because local is lekker, no matter what language you use. SciBraai's following has grown in the past years, and we are now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We've also begun organising real-life braai's where we share round-the-fire stories about South African science and scientists.

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