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Representatives of AFRA States Parties Endorse 2020 AFRA Annual Report at Meeting Ahead of the IAEA General Conference


In his opening remarks, Director General Grossi encouraged the AFRA National Representatives to play an active role in the implementation of newly-launched IAEA initiatives, such as ZODIAC and NUTEC Plastics. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Representatives of the States Parties to the AFRA Agreement held their annual meeting ahead of the 65th IAEA General Conference earlier this month. The 32nd Meeting of AFRA Representatives endorsed the 2020 AFRA Annual Report and the recommendations  of the 32nd Technical Working Group Meeting (TWGM).

The meeting, held on 9 September, was attended by more than 120 high-level representatives of State Parties, donor countries and partner organizations as well as IAEA Secretariat staff. Participants included 21 Ambassadors. The attendees considered the contents of the 2020 AFRA Annual Report, agreed on Rwanda as the host country for the 2022 TWGM, and appointed new members to the Agreement’s three standing committees.

In his opening address, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi noted the IAEA’s response in Africa to the COVID-19 pandemic, and advocated for enhanced collaboration between the IAEA and AFRA States Parties.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great suffering and hardship worldwide. Following its outbreak, the IAEA moved swiftly to provide RT-PCR equipment and training to 129 countries and territories around the world, aiming to support their efforts to respond to the pandemic. Forty-four of these countries were in Africa,” Mr Grossi said. “This experience, as part of the global pandemic response effort, reminds us of the value of international cooperation.”

Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, highlighted the value of the AFRA agreement. “Over several years, I have seen the significant contribution of AFRA to the wellbeing of millions of Africans through science and technology,” she said.

Deputy Director General of Technical Cooperation, Hua Liu, emphasized the importance of strong regional ownership of the IAEA technical cooperation programme, and of building on competencies and facilities in the region.

“Africa needs to drive its own training centres for development using nuclear technology. There are many high-quality, competent professionals and institutions in Africa in the fields of human health, food and agriculture, industrial applications and more,” he said. “AFRA State Parties are encouraged to identify more training centres that can be utilized to address the needs of the continent which is one of the strategic goals of the Agreement.”

Demonstrating the value of engaging with the TC programme, DDG Hua Liu drew attention to the 44 African IAEA Member States which received RT-PCR equipment and training to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Building Networks, Building Ownership

Faouzia Mebarki, Algeria’s Ambassador to Austria and Slovakia and its Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, underscored the importance of the AFRA agreement. “AFRA is a collective expression of the commitment of African States Parties,” she said. “It ensures the contributions of the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology towards achieving more socioeconomic impact.”

Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the Technical Cooperation Division for Africa, noted the importance of the agreement in driving forward concrete action on regional priorities. “For the next technical cooperation programme cycle, from 2022 to 2023, AFRA has submitted 18 regional project proposals, each addressing high priority areas,” he said. “AFRA States Parties will play an important role in improving the quality of the programme’s implementation, through enhanced monitoring towards clear outcomes at both the national and regional levels.”

Held on 9 September, the Meeting of Representatives was attended by more than 120 high-level representatives of State Parties, donor countries and partner organizations and Secretariat staff. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

The AFRA Fund

Established in 2009, the AFRA Fund is a mechanism designed to help the African Regional Cooperative Agreement mobilize resources in support of unfunded activities of AFRA projects through voluntary contributions by all AFRA States Parties. In 2020, the Fund benefited from the contributions of 18 AFRA States Parties, demonstrating the regional commitment to South-South and triangular cooperation. Representatives of AFRA State Parties highlighted the importance for all States Parties to effectively contribute through the timely payment of their shares to the AFRA. 

Charting the Future of AFRA

September 2021 marked the conclusion of Benin’s term as AFRA Chair, and the start of Niger’s year-long tenure. Rwanda will take the chair position in September 2022.

AFRA’s three standing committees focus on programme management (AFRA-PMC), partnership building and resource mobilization (AFRA-PBRMC ) and human resource development (AFRA-HLSC), and membership is for a term of three years. New regional experts have been designated to fill vacancies as committee members complete their terms and, for the first time, 60% of the membership of the AFRA committees are women.  

“The future of Africa is what the Africans want. The IAEA will cooperate with Africa to achieve the Africa we want in 2063,” Mr Grossi said,  with a reference to the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

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