Building nuclear power stations in South Africa could benefit other industries that are in dire need of a leg-up.
South Africa’s cabinet has kicked off the Nuclear New Build Programme (NNBP) to get an initial 9,600MW of nuclear power which, according to President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan, “will be built on a scale and at a rate the country can afford”.
The cost of obtaining this much power will be around $40 billion to $50 billion over 15 years.
Contrary to the view of naysayers, the nuclear power lifetime cost is lower than most technologies. It is also the leading global baseload renewable energy source, topped up with hydro, clean coal independent power producers (IPPs), wind and solar.
The Department of Energy’s strategy has been to engage with nuclear vendor countries, and not only nuclear power plant (NPP) original equipment manufacturers, as they did in the failed 2007 process. Agreements have now been signed with five nuclear vendor countries – France, Russia, South Korea, China and USA/Japan.
These countries are able to supply modern pressurized water reactor (PWR) NPP technology, funding, construction and localization development strategies. Some offer fuel supply and fuel waste management support. These partnerships will last 100 years if you consider the full cradle-to-grave lifecycle of the modern NPP.
Government intends following a transparent procurement process, which will be placed into the IPP Office. This office is currently responsible for the successful renewable energy, baseload coal, and gas to power IPP programs.
“Only once nuclear vendors had entered their bids would South Africa have an understanding of what are the different cost levels [and] what type of technology is available… So it’s going to be a year, or two, or more before we can definitely say how long, how much and over what period of time we are going to be managing this program,” says Gordhan.
The principle vendor countries, and their own domestic technology companies, will look to share risk through international alliances and to embed a strong local content into their offering. This will provide support and funding for broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), the construction and manufacturing sectors, and black industrialists.
Such Sino-Franco partnerships have been successful in building the Taishan NPP in China and the Hinkley Point C NPP in Britain, so watch this space.
South Africa’s nuclear readiness and localisation is an important issue for the initial 9600MW and could range anywhere from 20% to 40%, depending on how advanced the country’s readiness strategy is and its intentions for developing a flourishing nuclear knowledge economy.
South Africa has a proud heritage in power generation construction across all the primary energy technologies, but is now coming off a 2010 construction boom, with a big coal build now rapidly tailing off. The country’s embattled construction sector will be challenged to prepare for a nuclear build program without a well-thought-out and structured national strategy. We need to keep the momentum gained for the foreseeable future.
An early dialogue between the engineering and construction fraternity, the manufacturing sector, government and labor is therefore crucial to devise an incorporated plan for the NNBP. This plan will need to give South Africa about five years to ready itself to ramp-up into the investment and localization of the NNBP and will have to be sustained for at least the following 10 years.
The potential is for over 20,000 construction jobs to be created and a similar amount in the manufacturing and supply to the NNBP. Without a plan, the opportunity will be lost to foreign jobs and higher imported content for the NNBP.
Many industry players could be activated when the NNBP is announced. Supporting infrastructures will be a great stimulus for the local communities near the selected NNBP sites in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Currently the local talent pool is small. Group Five and Lesedi Nuclear Services are the only private sector companies currently fully active in the nuclear industry.
In the public sector, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), Denel, Eskom and the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) will have major roles in the establishment of the NNBP and in the supply to and execution of the projects.
Cryptocurrency for Africans
George Gordon is on a quest to revolutionize the financial system. The director of Africa Master Blockchain Company talks digital currencies, blind risks and board games.
What is this new African cryptocurrency you are offering?
Where the majority of current digital currencies are based on speculative models, AfriUnion Coin (AUC) and the AfriNational Tokens (ANT)are designed for a transactional purpose allowing international payments, remittances, foreign direct investment as well as day-to-day transactions at local retail stores and other outlets. While the option for speculative trade is available with AUC, the focus is not around that.
Each African country will have a specially-designed ANT which will allow users to pay for goods and services and bills easily through completely digital means without requiring any bank account. AUC and ANT will be fully interchangeable to one another and there will be no fees for the user.
It’s the natural next step for digital finance from mobile banking which most Africans are accustomed to. The ability to freely have the power to send and receive money locally and internationally will allow the freedom of choice and spending power many Africans don’t have currently.
What is your own investment philosophy?
I am a gambler! I believe in taking risks and putting things on the line. That being said, blind risk or whimsical guesses don’t get you very far. Always acquire enough information to understand to a reasonable level what the thing you are planning on investing is or how it works and then trust your instinct and gut feel.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs wanting to invest in blockchain?
First, do some research in terms of what the blockchain technology is being applied for or created in terms of its application to an industry or project. Thereafter, check the white paper for the design of the platform as well as its functionality and applicability to what it is trying to achieve. If it aligns with your personal investment rules, then go for it,however, remember that blockchain is continuously evolving and thus you need to explore outside the usual and standard.
First cash-less, now card-less. What is the future of online banking?
If we are looking into what is currently science fiction, I would say the future is digital contact lenses that will be able to connect you to all your social media accounts, internet, news as well as make payments by just looking at QR codes or specialized barcodes to approve and accept payments.
Now, realistically we are not far off from such innovation and technology, but for the time being, I think the next step is scanning of QR codes at retailers and having the transaction automated from your wallet to the retailers digitally.
What is your most prized investment and why?
My mind. I believe that the work I have put into developing my mind, and continue to do so every day, is the number one investment that I have ever done. It allows me to look at things in a unique perspective as well as provides me with the tools to push boundaries and create new opportunities.
Money, success, fame? Which is most important to you?
I would have to say success… because it is most likely going to bring the other two as well, right? But success in the form of starting something and letting it grow and succeed and knowing that something new exists because of your efforts.
What do you spend your money on mostly?
Board games. I love board games and believe it’s a fantastic way to expand your mind as well as have fun with friends.
King Price CEO On Why He Invested On Insurance
King Price Insurance’s CEO Gideon Galloway, who built an insurance company in South Africa worth over $226 million in six years, talks investments, industry trends and how self-driving cars will change the entire car insurance landscape.
Offering The American Dream
Gar Lippincott and Daniel Ryan of Atlantic American Partners were in South Africa recently looking for high-net-worth individuals wanting to invest in the US.
It’s a warm spring day in September, and Gar Lippincott and Daniel Ryan have just arrived in South Africa. It is Lippincott’s first time in the country, and he is jet-lagged.
A little over two months ago, he was booked to fly here from the United States (US) but was turned back at immigration.
“At Atlanta airport, the lady looked at Daniel’s visa and let him through and she looked at my visa and she said ‘I am afraid you can’t get on the plane because you have to have a blank page on your passport’. I said ‘I have three blank pages’ and she said ‘no, it’s supposed to be the one that says visa on it’. She said it’s the rules in South Africa so I had to sadly go back home… now when I was coming, I was told that’s not an issue anymore so I am happy they have made traveling into the country easier,” says Lippincott.
With a brand-new passport, he’s here with Ryan looking for people who want to invest in the US in exchange for a green card.
Lippincott, the Managing Partner of Atlantic American Partners, says he has always been keen on South Africa for its growth opportunities and prospects.
“From what I understand, the things that are causing short-term decline in the economy in South Africa are set up to provide long-term growth and hopefully people will understand this,” he says. Ryan, the company’s Managing Director of Emerging Markets – Africa, agrees: “I lived in Malawi for 12 years and South Africa is still considered the shining one throughout the continent. Even with all the problems, everyone still wants to come here because of the opportunities.”
According to an AfrAsia Bank report, South Africa comes second to Mauritius in boasting the highest number of high-net-worth individuals.
These are the kind of people Ryan and Lippincott target through their work at Atlantic American Partners. The company has real estate investors and professional private equity fund managers that manage money for banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. In addition, they help people get US green cards and ultimately US citizenship through the US government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.
“Basically we look for people who want to move to the United States and we help them do so legally by investing and the nice thing is, with our program, they are also able to get a nice return on investment,” he says.
According to Lippincott, for a $500,000 investment that creates 10 jobs for American workers, you could get a green card in about two years and be a US citizen in about six or seven years. “Twenty seven countries have an investor visa program but with most of them, it’s essentially a fee you pay, or you need to be actively engaged in the day-to-day operation of a business. For example, you invest $1.5 million in Australia, but you need to hire employees and generate a certain amount of revenue. One of the biggest advantages with our program is you actually invest the $500,000 into a fund. We act as a trustee of that money and within five to seven years, they get that money back with a bit of return on investment and you are a permanent citizen in the US.”
Atlantic American Partners invests the money in real estate developments like hotels, apartments and student accommodation.
“What’s nice about the program is it doesn’t only cover the investor; it covers the spouse and children under 21. Our biggest family was a Hungarian family with seven children so they got nine green cards for $500,000,” says Lippincott.
The company says it has had positive response in South Africa. “Two months ago, we were here and we had scheduled six presentations for 100 people and we ended up speaking to 450 people. Most were business people, people worried about the economy, people worried about the political future of South Africa and people concerned about the education future of their children,” says Ryan.
According to Lippincott, despite the news of the clampdown on immigration, the US economy is booming and will perish without immigration. In the era of Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant views, that’s heartening news indeed.
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