NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger will push ahead with a plan to develop civilian nuclear energy in partnership with other West African peers despite recent accidents including Fukushima, the country's president said on Monday.
"We have said that in the long term, we will promote, as part of ECOWAS (the West African regional bloc), civilian nuclear energy," President Mahamadou Issoufou told a international forum on youths and green jobs in the capital Niamey.
Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, but a major exporter of uranium, said in June that it plans to produce its own nuclear power in partnership with other African nations. For details, see
"The Chernobyl accident and recently Fukushima can not make us abandon this choice, especially with regard to the ongoing efforts to establish international standards for the construction of nuclear power," Issoufou said.
"In addition to renewable energy, nuclear energy is clean and low cost," Issoufou said, but did not give any further details on Niger's nuclear plans nor a target date as to when the project will start.
In March 2011, Japan suffered numerous earthquakes and a deadly tsunami which triggered reactor meltdowns and a radiation crisis at Tokyo Electric's Fukushima Daiichi plant, 200 km northeast of Tokyo, fanning public safety fears worldwide.
Niger's annual electricity consumption in 2007 was just under 590 million kilowatt-hours, according to the latest figures available on the CIA World Factbook.
Its key partner is French nuclear giant Areva, whose Imouraren mine should turn Niger into the world's No. 2 producer/exporter of uranium.
The mine will produce 5,000 tonnes of uranium a year from about 2013 or 2014, according to Areva.