Burkina Faso’s military leadership has inked an agreement with Russia to construct a nuclear power plant, a move aimed at bolstering the country’s electricity supply. The nation, one of the least electrified in the world with only 21% of its population connected to power, is seeking to address its chronic energy deficit.
This development is the latest in a series of moves by Burkina Faso’s junta to strengthen ties with Russia after falling out with most of its Western partners. The military leadership has increasingly turned to Russia for economic and military support since it seized power in the country last year.
The deal with Russia is a culmination of discussions that began when Burkina Faso’s military ruler, Captain Ibrahim Traore, engaged with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in Moscow in July. During this meeting, Captain Traore sought President Putin’s support in establishing a nuclear power plant in Burkina Faso, emphasizing the need to meet the country’s energy demands and those of neighboring nations.
Captain Traore stated, “We have a critical need for energy, this is an important point for me because we need, if possible, to build a nuclear power station in Burkina Faso to produce electricity. Our position is rather strategic because we are in the heart of West Africa and we have an energy deficit in the sub-region.”
Burkina Faso’s objective is to achieve 95% electricity access for urban areas and 50% for rural areas by 2030. Currently, the country relies heavily on biofuels like charcoal and wood for its energy needs, with oil products accounting for one-third of its total energy supply, according to the International Energy Agency.
The deal with Russia marks a significant step in Burkina Faso’s efforts to bolster its energy infrastructure, reduce electricity costs, and meet the growing energy demands of the country and the wider West African region.
While South Africa is the sole African nation currently producing nuclear power commercially, several other African countries, including Burkina Faso, are now looking to follow suit. Russia is also collaborating with Egypt to build a nuclear power plant, and it signed a deal to construct power plants in Nigeria in 2017. Kenya has also announced plans to establish its first nuclear power plant by 2027, although it has yet to decide on its international partner for the project.
Captain Ibrahim Traore has been in power in Burkina Faso since a coup in September 2022.
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