DAKAR, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Burkina Faso and Russian state nuclear company Rosatom on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for construction of a nuclear power plant in the landlocked Sahel West African state, Burkina Faso’s energy ministry said in a statement.
The nuclear power plant will enable the country to meet its energy needs, it said, adding that the agreement was signed by energy and mines minister Simon-Pierre Boussim, and Nikolay Spasskiy, Rosatom’s deputy director general.
The deal follows a request made by Burkina Faso junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg in July.
Traore, who sized power in a military coup in September 2022, has moved closer to Russia as its relationship with its former colonial power France sours, while Russia has move to break Western isolation over the Ukraine conflict and expand its influence in Africa.
The semi-arid country of over 20 million people has an installed power generation capacity of just over 420 megawatts.
The country, like neighbours Mali and Niger, which are also strengthening ties with Russia particularly on military cooperation, are struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
The MOU signed in Moscow on Friday does not give details of the proposed nuclear power plant, its funding, or a timeline for the construction.
It said the deal will help develop nuclear infrastructure and technology for medical and agricultural applications and implementation in Burkina Faso, while among other things, provide assistance to Burkina Faso in nuclear safety and security.