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Africa|Botswana|Energy|Nuclear|Resources|Safety|Services|Sustainable|Systems|Technology|Training
Africa|Botswana|Energy|Nuclear|Resources|Safety|Services|Sustainable|Systems|Technology|Training
africa|botswana|energy|nuclear|resources|safety|services|sustainable|systems|technology|training

African nuclear body launches safeguards upgrade programme for the continent

12th May 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) has launched a five-year programme to strengthen nuclear safeguards across the continent. Designated simply “Uplifting Nuclear Safeguards in Africa”, it was publicly unveiled with the holding of the programme’s first training course, hosted by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and held in Midrand, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, this week.

The programme is being funded by the European Union and the Republic of Finland, and benefits from expert support from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK). The first training course was attended by 40 delegates, from Algeria, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as South Africa.

Safeguards are technical measures required, and applied, by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which cover nuclear facilities and materials of all types, to ensure that nuclear materials are used only for peaceful purposes and that nuclear facilities are not misused. Currently, the IAEA has Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements (CSAs) with 47 African countries. (Signing a CSA with the IAEA is legally required by the Pelindaba Treaty, which created the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.)

“African States are in different stages when it comes to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and many need to build capacity to maintain State systems of accounting for and control of nuclear materials, and to effectively implement IAEA safeguards,” highlighted AFCONE executive secretary Enobot Agboraw. “In Africa, there is real momentum for developing safeguards. There is commitment at national levels, there is the regional support structure – AFCONE – and now we can also benefit from Finland’s top-of-the-line safeguards expertise. I see that in five years we can substantially improve regulatory control for nuclear materials in many African countries and build sustainable regional structures.”

“For STUK, this is the beginning of an exciting journey as we have not previously worked in Africa on this scale,” explained STUK director-general Petteri Tiippana. “However, we are experienced in regulatory control of nuclear materials and in providing expert support in non-proliferation matters, as Finland was the first country in the world to bring a CSA into force, over 50 years ago. Because we have the know-how, we have a duty to share knowledge. This is our way of contributing to safety globally.”

South Africa, and in particular the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and Necsa, is the safeguards programme’s Regional Collaborating Centre for Anglophone African countries. This involves providing analytical services, standardising technologies, carrying out nuclear research, training, and organising conferences.

“Necsa brings on board extensive knowledge and expertise on nuclear safeguards,” pointed out Necsa Group CEO Loyiso Tyabashe. “As a country we have a strong commitment towards non-proliferation as well as our ability to utilise nuclear energy and technology to contribute to our socioeconomic development.”  

   

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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