Russia has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on nuclear energy cooperation with Burkina Faso and Mali on the sidelines of the VI Forum Russian Energy Week in Moscow. Rosatom Deputy Director General signed a MOU with Burkina Faso Minister of Energy, Mines and Quarries Simon Pierre Bussim establishing the basis for cooperation in a wide range of areas, including approaches to the creation of nuclear generation, non-power applications of nuclear energy in industry, agriculture and medicine, the development of Burkina Faso's nuclear infrastructure and increasing public awareness of nuclear technologies.

Burkina Faso's Energy Ministry said in a statement that a NPP would enable the country to meet its energy needs. The agreement follows talks between Burkinabe military ruler Captain Ibrahim Traore and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, during the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg.

The MOU seeks to foster development of nuclear power stations in Burkina Faso, Boussim told Sputnik Africa in an interview. He described the project as "ambitious”. He said the agreement was concluded "for the purpose of the development of nuclear power plants in Burkina Faso and in order to see to what extent we can use this energy peacefully to satisfy the needs of the Burkinabe population, in particular in terms of industry, medicine, agriculture, security, etc."

Speaking about renewable energy, Boussim underlined that even if Burkina Faso "likes" the concept of it, "the first right is the right to life”. He added: "If renewable energy is to complicate the future of our country, we will opt for fossil fuels." Only around 20% of Burkina Faso's population has access to electricity – one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the International Energy Atomic Agency.

Spassky also signed a MOU with Mali’s Minister of Energy & Water Resources Bintu Camara outlining priority tasks and tools for interaction in the field of nuclear energy as well as areas for joint work. These include: the development of nuclear in Mali; increasing public awareness of nuclear technologies; fundamental and applied research; the use of radioisotopes; nuclear, radiation and physical safety; personnel training; and nuclear research facilities. An exchange technical visits was also agreed.

Rosatom is also strengthening cooperation with other African states, including Zimbabwe and Burundi, with whom the company has signed similar agreements on collaboration in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In addition, a memorandum of cooperation was signed by Rosatom fuel company TVEL and South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Nesca) on nuclear fuel production.

Image: Signing of the MoU between Rosatom and Mali (top) and Rosatom and Burkina Faso (bottom) (courtesy of Rosatom)