Home Contact Us
Search :

Nuclear - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3387, 27 May 2011
On Indo-African Nuclear Trade Facilitation
Siddharth Ramana
Research Officer, IPCS
email: siddharth13@gmail.com

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Africa in May 2011 was heralded as an impetus to Indo-Africa trade, which has touched US$30 billion a year. As future Indian investments in Africa will also be focused on energy resources, it is important to explore the role of nuclear fuel reserves in furthering Indo-Africa relations. This paper elucidates on nuclear opportunities and challenges which concern Indo-African trade relations.

It is expected that by 2020, a quarter of India’s energy requirements will come from nuclear energy, with an annual supply of 8,000 tons of uranium. To fulfill its nuclear fuel requirements, which have been hindered by its non-acceptance of the NPT, India has signed individual agreements with France and Russia, among other countries. To diversify sources of nuclear fuel, India is also actively engaging with Africa, which is known to have 18 per cent of the world's known recoverable uranium resources. Most of the operational mines are located in Niger, the Congo, Namibia, and South Africa.

Africa’s importance as a nuclear fuel source is further highlighted owing to reservations of key members of the NSG in engaging in nuclear trade with India. South Africa is the only African member of the NSG, which makes it easier for India to access nuclear fuel from the country. Since 2008, when the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement was formalized, India has signed a nuclear fuel supply agreement with Namibia, while other African countries including South Africa, Gabon, Malawi and Tanzania have expressed their interest in inviting Indian investments in their nuclear mines. 

The absence of formal Indian governmental investment in these mines has not hindered private players from furthering their economic interests. Presently, two Indian firms -Taurian Resources and Earthstone FZE (owned by Non-Resident Indians) are operating in Niger. Taurian’s mining tracts alone hold at least 30,000 tonnes of uranium. Presently, the only Indian governmental undertaking to be involved in scouting for uranium assets is the National Aluminum Company Ltd, which is trying to obtain allotment of some leases for uranium in Namibia.

India’s investments in South-Africa’s nuclear mining sector hold a number of benefits, including also a possible collaboration with South African nuclear reactor producers, in developing the innovative pebble-bed reactors for India. China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology of Tsinghua University is already working in collaboration with Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Ltd of South Africa to further develop the system. Additionally, nuclear investments in South Africa have an added benefit for the gold industry in India since uranium mineralization in South Africa occurs along with gold deposits. With India’s demand for gold growing at over 25 per cent, it offers a win-win situation for the country.

For India, investment in the nuclear field will also adhere to its principle of capacity-building of African economies as it will help these countries develop their own mining capabilities, in addition to encouraging the growth of the local economy. This was seconded by Tanzania's Prime Minister, Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda, who spoke of the need for “Good friends like India to invest in this area.” For Africa to invest in their own nuclear renaissance would require US$2 billion to US$3.5 billion per reactor, in addition to the mining costs and related expenses, which are beyond the reach of many African countries. Therefore, investments made by countries such as India help these countries economically. For example, recovery in mining helped Namibia’s economy grow an estimated 4.2 per cent in 2010.

What are the major challenges for India to achieve its energy related objectives in Africa? First, Africa is a signatory to the 1996 African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. While it awaits complete ratification, its rules hinder transferring fuel to India without it bringing comprehensive or full-scope safeguards on all its nuclear source materials and associated facilities.
Second, while there is political support for Indian companies to invest in Africa’s nuclear sector, there are pockets of opposition towards exporting nuclear fuel. For example, South African officials have argued that uranium should be exploited for the benefit of their country rather than for the benefit of foreign nations. Opposition can also come from Western countries opposing some regimes in Africa. For instance, Zimbabwe, which is believed to have rich uranium deposits, is ostracized by the international community owing to the land policies of its leader, Robert Mugabe.

Third, the security climate in many African countries with nuclear mines makes investment a highly risky affair, which escalates costs and deters investments. Examples of gunmen targeting French nuclear company AREVA in Niger, and WikiLeaks cables describing security in Congo’s nuclear sites as ‘non-existent’, discourage nuclear trade.

Fourth, Indian interests in Africa will be hampered by its rival, China. China’s deep pockets and undemocratic functioning trump India’s slow bureaucratic handling of such issues. China’s opposition to India’s NSG membership can also be tied to efforts to hamper India’s access to nuclear fuel.

Some of the immediate measures that may be implemented are - augmenting Indian diplomatic presence in the continent, encouraging further Africa-India joint ventures, and building a strategic environment with friendly African states, especially through cooperation with the Indian diaspora in these countries. 

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Ruhee Neog,
"‘Nuclear Weapons, Costs and Myths’: In Response," 16 September 2013
J Jeganaathan,
"Pakistan's Trespass at LOC: Is 'Kargil Plan 2.0' Underway?," 28 February 2013
Prof. V. Suryanarayan,
"Review: India-Sri Lanka Track-II Initiative," 27 February 2013
Shubhra Chaturvedi,
"Nuclear Weapons: Can They Be Made Obsolete?," 25 February 2013
Debak Das,
"IPCS Discussion: Preventing Nuclear Use," 4 February 2013
Dil Bahadur Rahut & Medha Bisht,
"Special Commentary: India and Bhutan," 28 January 2013
Ali Ahmed,
"India-Pakistan: Winds of Change?," 23 April 2012
Ali Ahmed,
"NCBMs: Scaremongering, But with a Purpose," 15 February 2012
D Suba Chandran,
"Indo-Pak Nuclear CBMs: The Road to Nowhere," 7 February 2012
Tanvi Kulkarni,
"Indo-Pak Nuclear CBMs: Where Talks Fear To Tread," 20 January 2012

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Nuclear Security Summit 2012: The Challenges Ahead

Debate: Is a Nuclear Iran good for India?

Does Myanmar have Nuclear Ambitions?

After Osama - IV: What are the Global Implications?

Revisiting the CTBT: the US' Conundrum

Sino-Pak Nuclear Engagement-IV: What Can India Do?

WikiWrecks: An Analysis of Terrorism Financing

Sarkozy’s India Visit: The Nuclear Dimension

The Role of Human Intelligence in Counter-Terrorism

Iran’s Role in the Taliban Negotiations: Q&A

Af-Pak: Iran’s Endgame

Iran-Turkey-Brazil Nuclear Agreement

Attacks in Lahore: Buildup to secession?

Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East: Utopia or Reality?

The Iranian Nuclear Conference

Nuclear Security Review: A Must for India

Airline Terror Plots: Lessons for India

China and Pakistan: Relationship in a Bottle

Need for an Indian Response in Somali Waters

Obama-mania: Iran is Not Invited

Nuclear Iran: Anathema for India

Pakistan: External Mis-dealings

Unending Drama in Pakistan

Q&A: Attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul

Q&A: Pakistan's Nuclear Bogeyman

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com