The African Regional Cooperative Agreement (AFRA) celebrated its twentieth anniversary today in Vienna. It is an intergovernmental agreement supported by the IAEA that helps foster nuclear science and technology for African development.
At a meeting held during the IAEA´s General Conference, Ana María Cetto, IAEA Deputy Director General of Technical Cooperation, lauded AFRA´s members for achieving notable results in the areas of human health, food and agriculture, industrial applications, information and communication technologies, as well as radioactive waste safety and nuclear security.
"Since its inception, AFRA has made an important contribution to regional cooperation in the field of nuclear science and technology in Africa," she said.
Ms. Cetto also praised AFRA for promoting collaborative work among developing countries, in what is often referred to as "South-South" cooperation. "AFRA also facilitates technical cooperation among developing countries, and the Africa region has become a leader in this kind of collaborative activity," she commented.
In the debate that followed, participants focused on the role of nuclear technologies for the development of the African continent. Referring to AFRA´s twentieth anniversary, Dr. Rob Adam, Director General of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), said that African nations should look at how to make the best use of nuclear technologies in the future.
"When you become 20 years old you need to ask yourself what you are going to do next," he said.
"I believe that we should prepare our nations to use more nuclear power."
Several panellists and conference participants highlighted the importance of making modern energy services for the African continent, and spoke of the benefits of using nuclear techniques such as isotope hydrology in the management of water resources. The role of nuclear medicine was also acknowledged.
The panel was chaired by Dr. Madeleine Tchuinte, Minister of Scientific Research & Innovation for Cameroon, and Professor Peter Msolla, Minister for Communication Science and Technology for Tanzania. The other panellists were Dr. Rob Adam, Director General of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA); Professor Aly Metwaly Aly, former Chairman of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority; and Mr Ali Boussaha, Director of the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Division for Africa.