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Building Robust, Sustainable, Resilient Nuclear Safety and Security Infrastructure: African Countries Collaborate

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A research reactor at the National Nuclear Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). (Dean Calma/IAEA)

Enhancing collaboration both within and between countries in Africa in nuclear safety and security is key to strong, sustainable regulation on the continent, agreed speakers at the meeting of regulators from 33 African countries in a virtual meeting last month.

At the annual meeting of the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA), which took place on the sidelines of the 64th IAEA General Conference, over 200 participants discussed the Forum’s 2020-2021 Action Plan, recommendations for improving engagement and synergies within each African Member State to address regional needs in nuclear and radiation safety and nuclear security.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi highlighted the importance of considering nuclear power to meet the growing energy needs in the region.

“Africa is not an idle spectator when it comes to climate change issues which affect the entire world,” he said. “Nuclear definitely has a place at the table. It can play a vital part in countries’ energy mix, but it is essential that they have a strong safety and security infrastructure in place.” He noted that the IAEA plays a key role in supporting the establishment of effective legal and regulatory frameworks in Africa and throughout the world.

The FNRBA — recognised in 2019 as an intergovernmental regional organization — plays a vital collaborative role in Africa in raising awareness of and promoting the safe and secure use of nuclear technology. Since its establishment in 2009, FNRBA has been and continues to actively enhance, strengthen and harmonize radiation and nuclear safety and security regulatory infrastructure among its members. Its thematic working areas centre on legislative and regulatory infrastructure, radiation and waste safety, nuclear safety infrastructure, regulatory Infrastructure for emergency preparedness and response, safety in the transport of radioactive material and nuclear security infrastructure.

Participants at the meeting heard that requests for IAEA peer review and advisory services in the region had increased over the last two years and that joint programmes had been created for human resource development in nuclear safety and security education and training – with the aim of increasing the sustainability of regulation on the continent. Additionally, following self-assessments by over 20 African regulators in 2019, there had been an increased focus on delivering capacity building activities.

The need to increasingly support countries in adhering to international legal instruments on nuclear safety and security was highlighted. FNRBA Chairman Khammar Mrabit reaffirmed that although much work is still to be done in Africa, FNRBA members were both committed and able to significantly improve and sustain safety and security in the region.  “Continuous and close cooperation with the IAEA and other partners will be the key for achieving an impact and meeting the objectives of the IAEA safety requirements and security guidance,” he said.

The meeting was organized by the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear Safety and Security (AMSSNuR) in cooperation with the IAEA.

“This meeting shows how well African Member States of the IAEA are working together and demonstrating their commitment to the international community,” said  Jalel Alashi, Ambassador of Libya to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, Vice-President of the 64th General Conference of the IAEA. “It is our fundamental mission to support nuclear safety and security in Africa and globally.”

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