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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan plans to build a four- reactor nuclear power plant to fill a gap in the energy needs of Africa's largest country by 2030 costing between $3-6 billion, the head of Sudan's atomic energy agency said on Tuesday.
Mohamed Ahmed Hassan el-Tayeb told Reuters in an interview the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would help to build a research reactor and power plant for Sudan by providing expert training for staff, fellowships and feasibility studies.
"We did energy planning for forecasting supply and demand and we found that hydro alone is not sufficient to meet the demand alone of the electricity of the country so we are thinking of mixed generation of power -- hydro, fossil fuels and maybe nuclear if things go as planned," he said.
"The agency (IAEA) is helping us on how to develop safety, security safeguards, legal and regulatory issues to start such projects," he added.
He said Sudan was hoping for a medium size four-unit power plant with each reactor producing between 300-600 Mega Watts per year. He said it could be completed by 2030 at a cost anywhere between $3-6 billion, adding there was still a long way to go along the road to nuclear power in Sudan.
El-Tayeb said he hoped to begin bidding for equipment and technology in five years time and for construction of the plant to take a further 10 years.
"Sudan is a member state of the IAEA and all these projects are supervised and guided by the IAEA," he said. "Sudan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is entitled to the peaceful application (of nuclear technology)," he added.
He said a research reactor would be established first to train staff and to produce radioisotopes which could be used in medicine to treat tumours and diagnostics and also in agriculture to create disease-resistant species or reduce insect populations.
Sudan's plan to increase industry, massive agricultural projects as well as a burgeoning population means they estimate a demand of 23,000 MW per year of electricity by 2020.
"Now around 20 percent of the country has electricity -- we need to reach 80 percent by 2020," el-Tayeb said, adding they would also be developing dams for hydro-electric power, fossil fuels and alternative energies including bio fuels such as ethanol, solar power and wind power in the east of Sudan.