Recent contributions by IAEA Member States have helped to advance the campaign to raise €31 million for the renovation of three of the Agency’s eight nuclear applications laboratories closer to its goal.
"Support from all of our Member States is not only important for the IAEA, but for all countries that benefit from the important research of our laboratories," said Aldo Malavasi, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Applications. "We hope to see this momentum continue and renew our appeal for contribution to help ensure that this vital Agency project is a success."
Following recent contributions by Saudi Arabia, Germany, the United States and Japan, 39 African countries that are party to the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) made a collective pledge of €100 000 from their individual contributions to the AFRA Fund.
"By making this contribution we recognize the valuable achievement of the nuclear applications laboratories in the delivery of the IAEA technical cooperation programme and transferring technology to Africa," said Khalid El Mediouri, Director General of Morocco's National Centre for Energy Sciences and Nuclear Techniques (CNESTEN) and AFRA's Chairperson. "The labs provide an important platform for a number of areas in African Member States. We realize that it is a modest contribution, but it has huge symbolic value."
The IAEA provides technical and scientific backstopping and financial and administrative support to AFRA, which has an annual budget of €7 million.
"The donation from AFRA is very important as it shows that Africa, as a region, recognizes the contributions of the laboratories, and is willing to invest its own resources in their future," Malavasi said.
The eight nuclear applications laboratories, built over 50 years ago in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, respond to global challenges in food and agriculture, human health and the environment, among other areas. Alongside IAEA scientists, hundreds of fellows and other scientific visitors from Member States, including from Africa, work and train in the labs each year.
Following these latest pledges, the IAEA has to still raise approximately €1.6 million in order to reach the extrabudgetary funding target of €20.6 million euros for the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) project. This represents two-thirds of the total €31 million euro budget. The remaining €10.4 million is covered from the IAEA's regular budget. Preparation for the construction of the new labs began last September, and construction of the new infrastructure required to support the new buildings commenced in March.
Construction of the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory and the Flexible Modular Laboratory, which is designed to house two additional laboratories, is scheduled to start in June.
"As the ReNuAL project moves forward, additional funds are still needed to ensure the project can be completed and construction can continue as planned," said Malavasi. "We hope our Member States will continue to help us reach our goal."