Regional welding institute supports creation of an African School of Nuclear Excellence

27th July 2022 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) highlighted on Wednesday that it was cooperating with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation to promote the creation of an African School of Nuclear Excellence. Such a school would be focused on nuclear-grade practical welding, weld inspection, the associated technology and technical services, as well as the non-destructive testing (NDT) of “exotic” materials and configurations, employed in the entire lifecycle of nuclear plants – that is, design, construction, commissioning, maintenance, in-service inspection, refurbishment and, finally, decommissioning.

“Nuclear energy is an important part of Africa’s economic development as it provides large amounts of virtually carbon-free baseload power at stable variable costs,” affirmed SAIW NDT manager Harold Jansen. “[NDT] offers reliable and accurate results which can provide stability. Since this testing method does not damage the components, all pieces of equipment and machinery can be tested which can minimise the inaccuracy of test results and any undermined [sic] irregularities. This is important for the nuclear programme.”

To date, the SAIW has directly trained more than 160 NDT specialists from 17 Anglophone African countries to use four methods of NDT, up to Level 3, which is the highest level. It is part of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA).

As part of AFRA, the institute has been associated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2000. The SAIW hosted some 60 participants at the launch of the IAEA’s 2022 Nuclear Energy Management School (NEMS) programme, which was held in Pretoria for two weeks, late last month and early this month. It was the third NEMS to be held in Africa, and involved delegates from 14 African countries.     

“Managerial and technical competencies are necessary to support national nuclear energy strategies and implementations across the continent,” highlighted AFRA South African National Coordinator Lerato Makgae. “The IAEA has therefore organised NEMS with various partners since 2010, with these being established regionally in cooperation with local training institutes such as the SAIW and nuclear organisations acting as hosts. The NEMS programme focuses on the managerial and technical competencies that are required to support national nuclear energy strategies. It is particularly appropriate for young professionals in the member states that plan to develop or are in the process of embarking on a nuclear development programme.”