The government of Burkina Faso announced on Friday that it has entered into an agreement with Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant aimed at addressing the energy needs of the country’s population. This development comes as a response to the fact that less than 25% of the population currently has access to electricity.
Burkina Faso has been under the control of a military junta since the previous year and has been actively seeking to diversify its international partnerships, with a particular focus on strengthening its ties with Russia. The official statement from the Burkina Faso government reads, “The government of Burkina Faso has officially signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a nuclear power plant with the primary goal of meeting the energy requirements of our population.”
This agreement was formalized during the Russian Energy Week event held in Moscow and involved the participation of Burkina Faso’s energy minister, Simon-Pierre Boussim, and Nikolay Spassky, the deputy director general of Russia’s state atomic energy agency, Rosatom. The statement further highlights that this memorandum aligns with the expressed desire of Burkina Faso’s President, Captain Ibrahim Traore, who had articulated his interest in this collaboration during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russia-Africa summit in July.
- Advertisement -
Rosatom, in its own statement, underlined the significance of this memorandum as the first official document concerning the peaceful use of atomic energy between Russia and Burkina Faso. It paves the way for cooperation in various sectors, including the utilization of nuclear energy in industry, agriculture, and medicine.
Burkina Faso faces a significant energy deficit, with just under 23% of its population having access to electricity by the end of 2020. In response to this challenge, Burkina Faso’s energy minister, Simon-Pierre Boussim, expressed his ambition to potentially establish nuclear power plants by 2030, with the aim of doubling the country’s electricity production within the same timeframe. This increase in electricity supply is anticipated to contribute to the industrialization of Africa.
At present, Burkina Faso relies heavily on electricity imports from neighbouring Ivory Coast and Ghana, while also generating some of its own power through hydroelectric and solar sources. It’s important to note that the only operational nuclear power plant on the African continent is located near Cape Town in South Africa.
The political landscape in Burkina Faso has witnessed a change, as the country has been governed by a military junta since a coup in September 2022. This change in leadership has led to a shift in the country’s international relationships, with Burkina Faso moving away from its historical partner and former colonial power, France.
- Advertisement -
In its pursuit of new allies, Burkina Faso has drawn closer to Russia. This diplomatic realignment was evident when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the delivery of free grain to six African countries, including Burkina Faso, during a summit in Saint Petersburg in July. Additionally, a Russian delegation visited Ouagadougou in early September to explore possibilities for military cooperation with the ruling junta.
It’s worth noting that Burkina Faso has been grappling with a protracted period of deadly jihadist violence, resulting in the loss of more than 17,000 civilians and troops, as well as the displacement of over two million people.