Paris – SMEs who want to position themselves to benefit from the massive infrastructure spend around South Africa's proposed nuclear build programme will need to show a certain level of expertise in the nuclear sector.
And France’s National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology (Instn) believes it is well positioned to share its nuclear expertise with local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The French government is hosting a group of South African journalists to showcase what they can offer South Africa should they win the country's nuclear bid.
The French are gunning for the SA nuclear deal along with other countries - including the US, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea - which all signed nuclear inter-governmental framework agreements with South Africa.
The request for proposals for the nuclear plan will officially be released at the end of March, Department of Energy director general Thabane Zulu announced on Wednesday.
South Africa’s 9 600 MW nuclear build programme will seek 50% localisation, ensuring there is a dominant local SME presence.
While the scale and pace of the programme will only occur within the financial restrictions of the country, the process of developing SMEs for the industry would need to occur now to ensure that expertise is ready for the selection period.
The French institute, which educates nuclear energy practitioners, said it seeks to develop the local supply chain through joint ventures and twinning local nuclear academies with the aim of developing a comprehensive human capacity pool.
“Partnership of cooperation implies… respect and mutual profit,” Instn head Philippe Corrêa told Fin24. “We are not going to impose or think that we are the reference, but it will be, I think, interesting to show (and illustrate) our model.
“(We would) propose it to South Africa and see if there are possibilities if we have something equivalent in South Africa to develop this model.”
A tour of Instn showed a high-tech learning environment, complete with its own operating nuclear reactor and various simulation set-ups to ensure real-life learning experiences.
* Fin24 is a guest of the French government. France's Areva is one of the bidders for SA's proposed nuclear build programme.