Mali junta, Russian state nuclear firm sign cooperation deals

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Mali’s ruling military junta and Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom signed three cooperation deals and discussed projects including a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant, Rosatom said on Wednesday.

Rosatom has been on a charm offensive in Africa for years, seeking to drum up business by signing cooperation agreements with countries across the continent.

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Part of that push has included strengthening ties with juntas in West Africa’s Sahel region that have turned away from traditional Western allies since they seized power in coups since 2020.

Rosatom said in a statement that it had met the leader of Mali’s junta Assimi Goita on July 2 and 3. It held negotiations with junta officials responsible for the economy, energy and education.

As well as discussing a “strategic project to build a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant in Mali,” junta officials and Rosatom talked about solar power generation and geological exploration projects, the statement said.

Rosatom did not give details about the proposed low-power nuclear power plant that could be built in Mali.

“The parties agreed to continue maintaining close contacts and periodically coordinate positions as joint work progresses,” it said.

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Currently the only operational nuclear power station on the African continent is in South Africa, the Koeberg plant near Cape Town, although Rosatom is building another in Egypt.

A mega 9,600-megawatt nuclear power deal between South Africa and Russia was thwarted by a court challenge in 2017 during former president Jacob Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency.

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