We are a power hungry nation. Eventually we need to rely on indigenous raw material for long-term sustainability of a country which is going to support one-fifth of humanity. With over 22 nuclear reactors presently active, and plans to build reactors worth 20,000 MW of installed capacity by 2030, India is well on its track to fulfill its commitment of meeting 40% energy demand via renewable resources.
However, there are some major challenges India had to face during the initial stages of transition into nuclear energy and was faced with scrutiny from various international organizations and superpowers regarding the fear of nuclear enrichment. Despite the challenges and various sanctions ranging from credit guarantees, to technology transfer and many more, the country was able to develop its own nuclear weapons as well as its own unique IPHWR technology to support its Thorium reactor programmes.
When the western world was busy covering their ambition of creating more warheads under their nuclear reactor programme, India's intent regarding its power requirements were clear. The country understood its limitations as a non-permanent member of UN and Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG), and lack of uranium deposits, India focused on the resources that were available with it.
India is the largest country in terms of thorium deposits and henceforth it was important to develop and master it's own technology rather than relying on the west. Today India's thorium factor has put the country in a self-reliant position and to a position where the country is now ready to export its knowledge in exchange of monetary and geopolitical reach.
International Thermo-Nuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a group of 7 countries namely China, USA, Russia, South Korea, Japan, EU and India, working together and are in the final stages of developing capabilities required to extract energy via nuclear fusion. A step towards replicating the Sun, which will ensure a nuclear waste free world and a far more efficient technology that will solve the global energy problem. Just to keep things in perspective and realize the importance of fusion reactor, 50 MW of input power can generate 500 MW of output power.
Once the technology is complete, India will own 100% right of the know-how along with all other members of ITER which will solve domestic power requirements.
About 625 million people in Africa have no access to electricity. In order to make things worse, only $45.6 billion have been spent from 1990 to 2013 in the energy sector which is half of what is required to be spent annually. However, this poor spending in the energy sector is justified by the low economic growth and instability in the region. Still, the governments of Africa are eager to bring nuclear energy to their country and are taking steps to ensure that. In 2015, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, South Africa, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda came together to form the African Network for Enhancing Nuclear Power. Countries like Algeria, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa have also set up Nuclear Research Reactor to develop majority of the technology themselves. The positive news is that every nation except two have signed non-proliferation treaty and hence the International Committee has confidence in exporting nuclear technology to these nations without the fear of Uranium Enrichment for defence purposes.
However, due to budget constraints, they are unable to acquire the technology from the west. India can be the potential supplier for these technologies at a lower cost. Since India has mastered the procedure of IPHWR, Africa means billion dollar business opportunity.
India had announced $10 billion as credit to Africa in 2015. Another $600 million and another $100 million for India-Africa development fund. Given scholarship to thousands of students to pursue education in India and have till date hoisted 35 African leaders.
The friction between the country and Africa is a thing of past. Today India realizes the huge market Africa has to offer, as a result the bilateral trade stood at $69 billion.
The country has already developed significant trade infrastructure in the continent which will ensure safe transfer of nuclear reactor technology which will allow India have a greater role in African diplomacy and politics.
All in all, advancement in nuclear technology will determine the faith of a country. With prices of natural resources for power generation are touching historic lows and fear of depletion will one day create havoc on earth if humanity fails to find a long-term and sustainable alternative for power. India is well placed in the race but the country also needs to tap the global market to ensure all round growth of the Indian Economy.