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AFRA Holds its 34th Meeting of Representatives on the Margins of IAEA General Conference


The 34th Meeting of AFRA Representatives was organized on the margins of the IAEA 67th General Conference and was held at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria on 28 September. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

With the support of IAEA, the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) held the 34th Meeting of its Representatives on 28 September 2023, on the margins of the Agency’s 67th General Conference.

“We have to do much more to meet the growing needs of peoples in Africa and to meet growing expectations,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, during his opening remarks to the assembled AFRA and national representatives. “The IAEA is pure service. The IAEA is about the projects that your people need, it’s about the cancer centres, radiotherapy units and the agricultural technology we are sharing.”

The AFRA Agreement entered into force on 4 April 1990 and provides a framework for African Member States to intensify their collaboration through programmes and projects focused on the specific shared needs of its members. Its activities cover a wide range of peaceful applications of nuclear techniques that contribute to the achievement of national and regional development goals.

“My country, as many other African countries, is determined to integrate nuclear technology solutions to trigger socioeconomic transformation leading to the realization of our long-term vision to become a high-income country by 2050,” said outgoing AFRA Chairman Fidel Ndahayo, who also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwandan Atomic Energy Board.

“It is important that African countries strengthen their regional cooperation in transboundary power-sharing, training and education, as well as research and development, particularly where the collaborative use of research reactors are concerned.”

During the course of the annual meeting, an election was held, and Algeria was selected to assume the Chairpersonship of AFRA and will remain the incumbent until September 2024. Correspondingly, Ndahayo also promised to work hand-in-hand with Abdelhamid Mellah, the incoming AFRA Chair and the Commissioner of the Algerian Atomic Energy Commission, to effectively implement the AFRA Regional Cooperation Framework 2024—2028, following its endorsement.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi joined DDsG Hua Liu and Najat Mokhtar, as well as both incoming and outgoing AFRA Chairs, Abdelhamid Mellah and Fidel Ndahayo, in addition to Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Division for Africa, at the annual Meeting of AFRA Representatives. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

“The cohort of medical professionals that have received training and achieved qualifications in 2022 will undoubtedly make an important contribution to improved health services across the continent,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General (DDG) and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, turning the audience’s attention to training and capacity building.

“And the 41 radiation protection officers who have completed the most recent Post-Graduate Education Course (PGEC) in radiation safety will help to make the 27 countries they come from safer and better positioned to benefit from nuclear technology.”

The assembled IAEA staff and AFRA Representatives reviewed both national and regional technical cooperation programme activities of the last year. Furthermore, the contents of the AFRA Annual Report 2022 were reviewed and adopted by the attending AFRA Representatives.

The meeting also recommended the adoption of the AFRA Regional Cooperative Framework for 2024-2028 and the recognition of the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority as a Regional Designated Centre for education and training in radiation protection. The AFRA Representatives furthermore agreed that Ethiopia will host the 34th AFRA Technical Working Group Meeting in 2024, an annual event organized to support the design and implementation of AFRA TC activities.

Organized to coincide with the IAEA General Conference, the annual meeting was attended by Ambassadors and Resident Representatives of IAEA Member States, as well as Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and National Coordinators of AFRA Government Parties. In total, the meeting benefitted from the attendance of 101 in-person and online participants.

“With its young and dynamic population, Africa has the potential to become a global powerhouse of innovation. That is why the IAEA puts so much emphasis on building capacities in research and development with our partners in your countries,” concluded IAEA Deputy Director General Najat Mokhtar, Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications. “Now it’s time to build on our successes and scale them up to benefit more countries.”  

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