Electricity crippled Zimbabwe turns to nuclear enrichment, with help from Russia power  

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By Leopold Munhende

TROUBLED by a recurring electricity crisis, Zimbabwe agreed terms with Russia to engage in uranium exploration and enrichment in a bid to begin generation, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo revealed this week.

Moyo recently visited the Kremlin and on Tuesday told a post-Cabinet media briefing that Russia and Zimbabwe had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the “peaceful use” of nuclear power.

“This was cooperation in exploration and other areas and research in as far as peaceful use of nuclear is concerned.

“When we say peaceful use of nuclear energy, it is one of the areas where power can actually be generated from in as far as that is concerned,” said Moyo.

“It is not so much about being implemented but it is an agreement which conjoins the two countries for research.”

Moyo co-chaired the Third Session of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Zimbabwe and Russia from 5 to 7 August in Moscow alongside Russia’s Environment Minister Sergey Yefimovich Donksoy.

Zimbabwe is battling to deal with its worst power crisis since independence amid indications its major source of hydro-energy Kariba Dam might be shut down for the first time since commissioning in the late 1950s.

A 400MW relief power supply deal from South Africa’s Eskom has done little as some areas still go as long as 10 hours without power from an initial 15 hour schedule.

Though extremely expensive to build and with stringent international regulations, nuclear power facilities produce energy at a 91% efficiency 24 hours a day with zero carbon emissions..

Some 13% of the world’s electricity, mostly from Europe and America comes from nuclear energy.

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi who is grappling to find solutions to the power crisis is currently trying to persuade neighbouring Mozambique for fresh supplies after Zimbabwe was cut off due to failure to service a US$40 million.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said technicians from Zesa are expected to leave for Mozambique to begin negotiations.

Also agreed in Moscow were partnerships in exploration of diamonds and platinum among other minerals. Russia’s Alrosa has already been granted a concession in the Marange diamond fields.