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SABLE Content Editor Wins International Journalism Award – with a scoop on South Africa’s secret $70 billion nuclear deal

The Uncovering of the Single Largest Nuclear Deal Offer in the World

San Jose, CA (Oct. 09, 2015) – SOUTH Africa was the unlikely setting for the largest single deal offer in the world in the past year: $70 billion, for the import of 8 nuclear reactors from Russia’s state atomic energy company.

The reporter who broke the story of the secret offer by Rosatom was Rowan Philp – the former Sunday Times Chief Reporter, who is now Content Editor for the South African Business Link to Experts (SABLE Accelerator).

This week, Philp was named the news winner of the Vodacom South African Journalist of the Year Awards (regional), at a gala event near Durban, South Africa.

The Vodacom judging panel hailed his eight-part series – entitled “Inside SA’s R1 trillion nuclear deal” – as outstanding, and Philp’s entry will now be considered among the best journalism from radio, TV, print and online for a $9000 overall prize.

His story followed an announcement by the South African government that nuclear power stations would be procured from foreign vendors to add 9600 megaWatts of power to the national grid.

However – despite the need for transparency, and the fraught history of South Africa’s previous massive procurement, known as “the arms deal” – the negotiations for the 8 nuclear reactors were declared confidential, and there were strong allegations from the country’s opposition political party that Russia was improperly preferred as a vendor.

The USA, China, France and South Korea were rival bidders.

Based on a tip that Russian names had been mentioned in a guest book at a hotel in the Drakensberg – the Champagne Sports Report – Philp booked in as a guest, and was able to gain access to the negotiations between Rosatom and South Africa’s Department of Energy. Here, he discovered that the Russian “sweeteners” included an offer to repatriate all future nuclear waste from the South African stations back to Russia.

Later, he was exclusively able to describe the offer of Westinghouse, from the US, as well as those of the other rivals.


Last year, Philp was the winner of the same Vodacom award – this time, for his coverage of Nelson Mandela’s funeral in the statesman’s hometown of Qunu.

Read this tear-jerking article here <>

This formed part of a record-breaking haul of journalism awards for Philp in South Africa in 2014, which his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), highlighted in its Spring 2015 Knight Journalism newsletter:

In 2014, the South African journalist became that country’s most decorated reporter, winning 6 major awards.

As chief reporter for South Africa’s oldest paper, The Witness, Rowan was a joint national winner in the Investigative Reporting category of the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, which is South Africa’s premier online and print industry prizes event. He was recognized for his revelations of corruption behind public housing tenders, and his exposé of the hazardous building practices employed by one corrupt company, just days before a shopping mall built by that company collapsed, with fatal results.

He won the same category in the Legends Awards, and also became the first reporter ever to win all three print categories in the regional competition of South Africa’s largest journalism awards event: the Vodacom South African Journalist of the Year. Rowan won the News category – for his coverage of Nelson Mandela’s funeral; the Feature Writing category – for his 30-part series on the national cable theft epidemic; and also the Financial Reporting category."

Read some of Rowan's past award winning pieces: