South Africa will get nuclear energy at a cost the country can afford.
That was the message of Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe during his department's budget vote debate in Parliament on Thursday.
"To say nuclear energy is too expensive is misleading," he said. "The approach to South Africa's energy sector should be one of balancing all the different sources together."
He acknowledged that the Koeberg nuclear power station near Cape Town is "getting on in life". Government, however, plans to extend the nuclear power station's life span.
"Nuclear use goes well beyond just the use for energy. Part of it can also be used for cancer treatment," said Mantashe. He is of the opinion that SA should even look into establishing a state-owned pharmaceutical company.
"Koeberg is generating the most cost-effective energy in SA today. Nuclear is efficient. At the same time, we must talk of an energy mix for the country."
Good governance is another aspect he emphasised in his speech. He wants to improve governance so that SA's energy sector can be strengthened.
"We must ensure stability and long-term it is very important to have good governance. Without good governance we cannot do risk management," said Mantashe.
Mantashe: High electricity prices standing in the way of beneficiation
For him it is very important for SA to interact with the rest of Africa.
He emphasised that SA must be part of the Inga hydro-electric project in the DRC.
"Our commitment to the Inga project is very important. SA must be part of Inga and be part of finding solutions in terms of the project," said Mantashe.
"We are going to explore a number of opportunities in Africa as we are part of this continent."
Regarding the price of electricity, Mantashe is of the view that something needs to be done to make sure electricity is accessible to people.
"To mitigate against energy (supply) restriction, government is looking at the use of natural gas, mainly imported from Mozambique, to have more economic options for SA. We are also looking at shale gas and deep-sea options," he said.
Last but not least, he said his department is making progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.