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Presenting Nuclear Solutions to Regional Challenges at United Nations Fora for Africa


“In the last four years, the Agency has been scaling up training and capacity building opportunities for nuclear experts in Africa, and insisting upon gender mainstreaming at every step,” explained Director Abdulrazak. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Each year since 2014, the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) has enabled the discussion of pressing and emerging challenges to development facing Africa. Through the forum, decision-makers from across the continent contribute a regional perspective to key global UN events, such as the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum and the High Level Political Forum (HLPF).

This year, for the first time, the IAEA took part in the ARFSD, organizing and hosting a side event on Building Human and Institutional Capacities in Africa in the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Science and Technology with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA) on 25 February, and taking part in a high-level panel discussion on Opportunities in Advanced Energy Technologies on 2 March.

Engaging with the 8th Session of ARFSD

The side event focused on capacity building to the practical application of nuclear science and technology in support of a green, inclusive and resilient Africa.

More than fifty regional stakeholders attended, listening to experts from Egypt, Kenya and the IAEA share their expertise and talk about their work to enhance academic programmes, support knowledge and data-sharing, and attract Africa’s youngest talents to the nuclear field.

“With the support of my university and others like it throughout the region, the AFRA Regional Cooperative Agreement is currently working towards developing a comprehensive human resources development (HRD) plan and strategy for all Members States, designed to achieve a critical mass of nuclear scientists in the region,” said Professor James Kahindi, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Pwani University in Kenya. “In particular we wish to create awareness and promote STEM subjects among the youth, and especially young women, right from secondary school all the way to Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral levels.”

Dina Husseiny, Director of Radiology and Medical Imaging Technology at Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST) in Cairo, said: “We need to face the fact that there is a dearth of interest among youth in STEM subjects, and women remain underrepresented in scientific fields,” she said. “With IAEA support, our university is now promoting STEM awareness to secondary school students, and developing new, modern curricula which include e-learning modules and technologies which facilitate learning.”

More than 50 stakeholders and decision-makers from across Africa attended the IAEA-organized ARFSD side event. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

AFRA’s Regional Designated Centres (RDCs) have an important role in ongoing efforts to strengthen nuclear education on the continent.

“Our experience shows that centres of excellence play a powerful part in capacity building. In the case of AFRA, our RDCs have complemented traditional technical cooperation activities by providing cost-effective, south-south support to national institutions in other countries operating in similar fields,” said Director Shaukat Abdulrazak

Mario Tot, IAEA Energy Systems Analyst, spoke on the IAEA’s role in strengthening the capacities of countries to predict energy demand well into the future. “The IAEA supports countries in their energy planning and analysis efforts, enabling them to forecast future energy demands and to identify opportunities for decarbonization,” said Tot. “Through the Technical Cooperation programme, we are in constant collaboration with countries to develop new training courses, enhance existing professional networks, to organize expert visits and fellowships.”

The IAEA also supports the African Network for Education in Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA-NEST), established to support the harmonization of nuclear educational content throughout the region. “We need to substantially increase the number of young professionals with technical and vocational skills relevant to the application of nuclear technology,” said Kahindi. “Through AFRA-NEST and other south-south modalities, we are rapidly expanding the number of scholarships available to African students.”

The IAEA also hosted a panel discussion during the 2022 Africa Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (ARSTI) programme, which focused on the role of new and emerging technologies alongside the expansion of renewable energy sources in Africa.

Last update: 25 Jul 2022

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