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Burkina Faso signs nuclear power plant deal with Russia to boost electricity

Burkina Faso’s military junta has signed a deal with Russia to build a nuclear power plant to bolster electricity supply.

The deal followed talks between Ibrahim Traore, leader of the junta, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July during the Russia-Africa summit.

Traore requested Putin’s support in setting up a nuclear power plant in Burkina Faso, which he said would help meet the country’s energy demands.

“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,” he said.

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“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 military seized power on September 30, 2022, triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The junta has turned to Russia for economic and military support since the coup.

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Burkina Faso is one of the countries with the least access to electricity globally, with only 21 percent of people connected to the grid.

The deal is part of the country’s target to achieve 95 percent electricity access for urban areas and 50 percent for rural areas by 2030.

In 2017, Russia had also signed a deal to build two nuclear power plants in Nigeria but the project is yet to begin.

The deal was reported to have been worth $20 billion.

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South Africa is currently the only African country that produces nuclear power on a commercial scale.

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