(Adds Eskom's spokesperson quotes)
JOHANNESBURG, April 9 South Africa's tender for
the estimated 1 trillion-rand ($72 billion) expansion of its
nuclear power plants will begin in June when state utility Eskom
requests proposals from companies bidding for the project, City
Press newspaper reported on Sunday.
South Africa, which has Africa's only nuclear power station,
wants nuclear power to play the leading role in expanded power
generation, easing the country's reliance on an ageing fleet of
coal-fired plants. It has asked Eskom to procure an additional
9,600 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
Rebutting the report, National Treasury head of
communication Yolisa Tyantsi said a meeting or presentation with
Eskom on March 28 "was not on the state of readiness to procure"
more nuclear power.
"National Treasury is not in a position to publicly disclose
the discussions," she said.
The City Press reported that an internal Eskom document
indicates that the country's nuclear programme will get
According to the document, Eskom will issue requests for
proposals in June, set the deadline for bids in September and
for evaluation in December. The winning bidder will be decided
in March 2018, the newspaper said, and the contract will be
signed between December 2018 and March 2019.
Eskom's spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said "nothing at this
stage has been decided on, those dates were suggestive dates."
"If everything goes well, we will issue a request for
proposals around June," said Phasiwe, adding that the national
treasury, department of energy and the department of public
enterprises still have to make their own findings.
In February, 27 companies showed preliminary interest in the
country's plans to build more nuclear reactors after Eskom in
December asked them to provide information on nuclear power
costs and financing options. Companies have until
April 28 to provide their information.
"I don't see it starting to happen in June. There are steps
that need to happen and there is a determination that treasury
has to make about affordability, and we are not near that right
now," said National Treasury spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete.
Critics of the plan have raised questions about
environmental risks and costs.
"The undeniable fact is that South Africa cannot afford, and
does not need, the nuclear deal," Natasha Mazzone, the
opposition Democratic Alliance's shadow minister of public
enterprises, said in a statement.
"Indeed, international ratings agencies agree and this deal
has been repeatedly cited as a cause for great concern and a key
factor in downgrades not only for Eskom, but the country as a
Fitch on Friday followed S&P Global Ratings and downgraded
South Africa to "junk", citing among other factors differences
over the country's nuclear programme, along with President Jacob
Zuma's decision to sack Pravin Gordhan as finance minister
($1 = 13.7525 rand)
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla,; Editing by Larry King and