Members of the Chinese delegation for the first meeting of the joint energy cooperation commission in Khartoum on 23 May 2016 (Photo SUNA)
Khartoum – Sudan and China signed, Monday, an agreement to construct the first nuclear powerhouse in the east African country.
The framework agreement to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Sudan was inked following the first meeting of the China-Sudan Joint Energy Cooperation Commission in Khartoum.
In December 2012, Sudan announced an agreement with China to build a research nuclear reactor, with the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
According to a government official at that time, the reactor aimed to conduct research and scientific applications, and to encourage the use of atomic energy. Sudan carries out 10 projects with the help of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency.
The Sudanese Ministry of Water Resources and Electricity has started the actual preparations for producing power using the nuclear energy in cooperation with the Sudanese Atomic Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as the first nuclear plant is expected to be built in 2020.
The visiting Chinese delegation for the joint energy cooperation meetings is chaired by Nur Bekri, Director of the Chinese National Energy Administration, while the Sudanese side is chaired by the Minister of Finance Badr al-Din Mahmoud.
Speaking after the signing of the framework agreement, Mahmoud said the two sides agreed to discuss the problems that energy production is facing in Sudan and to reach effective solutions.
He added that they will also work to solve challenges facing the new projects, especially Al-Foula electricity plan and the transmission network in South Kordofan.
The government says the lack of funds and economic sanctions impede its efforts to extend electricity service and cover areas in Darfur and South Kordofan.
President Omer al-Bashir met the Chinese delegation on Monday, and discussed bilateral ties and means of bolstering them further.
Al-Bashir directed following the meeting to develop cooperation with China in areas of economy and trade, and expand it in fields of oil, gas, renewed energy, agricultural and industrial investment and infrastructure, said a statement issued following the meeting.
China has invested more than $20 billion in Sudan mostly in the oil sector during the past two decades. Beijing provides low-interest loans and weapons transfers in return for oil.
Minister Mahmoud said they reached an agreement with China to strengthen oil capabilities, to build new facilities and additional oil exportation ports on Red Sea.
Also, they agreed that Chinese companies will explore oil in new blocks, and increase the production of existing fields, besides an agreement for gas exploration and production.
The minister announced that the Chinese oil investments in Sudan have reached 17 billion dollars.
Speaking at the joint meeting; the Minister of Oil and Gas, Mohamed Zayed Aw, said that Sudan exploited only small amounts of its oil reserves, and called on China to increase its investment in the oil sector.
On his part, the Minister of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, Mutaz Musa, pointed out that the ministry is implementing 155 electricity projects with china at a cost of 10 billion dollars.
He said that his government will fund the $10 billion projects from multiple sources, adding that the five-year plan includes power plants and dams.
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