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African Universities Meet to Prompt Human Resource Development in Nuclear Science and Technology with IAEA Support


Vice-Chancellors of African universities and representatives of regional bodies involved in education and training meet in Mombasa, Kenya, to discuss human resource development needs in Africa (Photo: IAEA)

A shortage of qualified workers in nuclear science and technology remains a significant challenge common to several African IAEA Member States. Additionally, education and training often rely on foreign educational institutions and on training provided in other regions.

With the support of the IAEA, a first-of-a-kind meeting focusing on means to address these human resource development needs in Africa, gathered Vice-Chancellors of African universities and representatives of regional bodies involved in education and training on 25-26 June 2018.

Opening the meeting, Amina C. Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kenya, highlighted the importance of education and training in nuclear science, and called for the establishment of clear legal frameworks, policies and regulatory authorities to enable Africa to tap the full potential of nuclear technology. The Minister noted that while many students graduate in Africa each year, the proportion of those graduating in scientific fields, and especially in nuclear science, is still low.

Professor Ntiba, Principal Secretary at the State Department of University Education and Research, spoke of a need for affirmative action, deliberately focused on empowering universities to generate and disseminate knowledge in science and technology. Noting that nuclear and other sciences hold the key to the sustainable development of the continent, Professor Ntiba stressed the importance of demystifying these fields.

Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA’s Division for Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation (TC), underscored that building human resource development capacity in Africa to further promote the benefits of nuclear science and technology is vital. “Policymakers in developing countries need to understand the importance of matching demand and supply for skills as well as the impact on their country’s performance”, he said.

During the meeting, the participants deliberated and agreed on practical collaboration modalities to promote and implement graduate and postgraduate academic programmes related to nuclear science and technology in accredited African universities.

Measures and actions to implement a PhD Sandwich Fellowship Programme, launched by the IAEA under the project, were also agreed. The project aims to train a critical mass of PhD holders in different nuclear science and technology disciplines relevant to Africa.

Upon completion, the beneficiaries of the PhD Sandwich programme are expected to lead academic programmes in nuclear science and technology in tertiary institutions, to promote research and development, and to contribute to the effective management of the TC programme in Africa to ensure that Member States maximize the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology for socioeconomic development.

The PhD Sandwich programme will complement ongoing efforts by African universities and regional partner institutions in charge of education and training, aiming at addressing the above-mentioned shortage of human resources.

Twenty Vice-Chancellors of accredited universities from the following Member States participated in the meeting: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. In addition, the Executive Directors of The World Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences and a representative from the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission, also participated.

The meeting was organized under an IAEA TC regional project within the framework of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA). It was hosted by the Government of Kenya through the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation.

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