South Africa has started a process that could lead to it adding up to 9,600MW of nuclear power to its national grid, the Department of Energy said, Reuters reported.

The costs of nuclear power make it into a controversial project. Analysts estimate that the nuclear project will cost as much as $66b, sparking criticism from opposition parties of the expenses and of construction agreements being made behind closed doors. The cabinet had earlier this month given the green light to issue a request for proposals from the nuclear industry, which would be put forward to the cabinet for approval before formal bids are issued.

According to The Zimbabwe Mail, Russia, China, France, South Korea, Canada, and Japan are all vying to win the main nuclear deal. The first four countries have signed intergovernmental agreements in 2015 ahead of the tender process, with Canada and Japan pondering to join in. There are also opportunities for local companies to win contracts for various infrastructure and construction tenders.

Africa’s most industrialized economy, which relies heavily on coal for electricity, has been grappling with power shortages that have curtailed its economic growth.