South Africans appointed to top nuclear positions abroad and at home

17th February 2017 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano has appointed South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) CEO Phumzile Tshelane to the Standing Advisory Group on Nuclear Energy (SAGNE). Tshelane will serve as a member of the group for two years. The group provides advice for the IAEA director-general on nuclear energy technical and policy issues. These cover the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear waste technology, as well as nuclear power itself. It also advises on issues regarding the place of nuclear energy in the development of sustainable energy.

SAGNE has 20 members, all hand-picked by the director- general. In the words of the Necsa press release, “Mr Amano acknowledged Mr Tshelane’s invaluable experience and knowledge that he would bring to the advisory group”. Tshelane’s appointment has been approved by the two relevant South African government departments. These are the Department of Energy and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

“The CEO of Necsa, Mr Tshelane, has done South Africa proud with his appointment to this important nuclear advisory group of the IAEA,” stated Necsa board chairperson Dr Kelvin Kemm in the press release. Tshelane will attend his first SAGNE meeting, at the IAEA head office, in Vienna, Austria, from April 25 to April 28.

“South Africa is one of the countries with over 50 years’ experience in nuclear technology applications in the world,” highlighted Kemm. “This appointment of the Necsa CEO clearly indicates that South Africa’s accumulated nuclear wisdom and experience are valued at international level.”

South Africa is a founder member of the IAEA, which was set up in 1957. The current chairperson of the IAEA board of governors is South African ambassador to the IAEA Tebogo Seokolo, who was elected to this post in October. The IAEA now has 171 member States, of which 35 form the board, South Africa being one of the permanent members.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa) has announced that Sandisiwe Ncemane has been appointed deputy president of its board with effect from January 1. She is a professional engineer with a Master of Engineering (Engineering Management) degree from the University of Pretoria and is currently account manager for project development for energy projects at the Coega Development Corporation.

“Sandisiwe brings a wealth of proven business leadership and technical skills within the energy sector,” highlighted Niasa MD Knox Msebenzi. “We are looking forward to being led by a new calibre of young female professionals, something Niasa has been advocating for and [in which it is] prepared to lead by example.”

In her current post, she is responsible for both power generation and manufacturing projects, whether they are based on gas, nuclear, solar or wind. She has been involved in the Engineering Council of South Africa and the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. She has also had academic experience with the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, giving her an understanding of African economic issues.

“We wish her all the best and hope she inspires a new crop of leaders prepared to lead [this] generation to the next phase of the new nuclear build [programme] in South Africa,” stated Msebenzi. Niasa’s aim is to advance the highest standards in South Africa regarding nuclear technological development and application. The association is composed of companies, other associations and groups, universities and individuals. Its membership is divided into sponsor members, corporate members, academic institutions, associate members and professional members.