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Young Professionals Build Knowledge of Nuclear Power, with IAEA Support


Participants attending the Nuclear Energy Management School in a control room at iThemba LABS, Cape Town. (Photo: iThemba LABS)

Twenty-nine early career professionals built their knowledge of nuclear power programme development at the fourth edition of the Nuclear Energy Management School in South Africa from 13 to 24 November 2023. The school, hosted by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NESCA), provided training for participants from 13 Member States that are either considering or expanding their nuclear power programmes: Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

“As NECSA we are always excited to be part of the initiative that not only uplifts South Africa but the African continent as a whole,” said Loyiso Tyabashe, Necsa Group Chief Executive Officer. “This year we partnered with Eskom (Koeberg), the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) as well as iThemba LABS as key local role players. For the first time, the thematic experts were entirely from South Africa for this year’s Nuclear Energy Management School, which tells you about the skills we possess in the country,” Tyabashe added.  “Skills development is one of our key strategic priorities as an organization,” he said.

“Africa has the most pressing needs in terms of access to electricity and conducting such a regional training in Africa for Africans is a strategic and sustainable approach that empowers the continent to address its unique challenges and opportunities to harness nuclear power because it holds the prospect of safe, secure, stable and low carbon electricity generation,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Department’s Division for Africa, in his opening remarks.

Attendees participated in a series of comprehensive sessions led by experts from the IAEA, as well as by South African experts from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in South Africa, the National Nuclear Regulator, ESKOM, iThemba LABS, and NECSA. The participants gained a thorough understanding of many aspects of nuclear power programmes, covering topics such as nuclear law, safeguards, energy planning, waste management and decommissioning in line with the IAEA Milestones Approach. The IAEA Milestones Approach is a phased development plan to help countries prepare to introduce nuclear power.

“The Nuclear Energy Management School offered an in-depth exploration of diverse aspects of nuclear power, ranging from reactor technologies and safety protocols to regulatory frameworks and was conducted by seasoned nuclear experts. This knowledge has proven invaluable in making informed decisions and contributing meaningfully to discussions within the field. The school facilitated extensive networking opportunities and mutual support that have lasted beyond the duration of the training,” said Gedion Nskosi, IAEA Safeguards Inspector who previously completed the training in 2018 as a State Safeguards Inspector for South Africa.

Participants were able to experience theory in practice at the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences in Cape Town and the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Koeberg is the only nuclear power plant in Africa now, but with many more countries embarking on nuclear power, the school aims to prepare the next generation of nuclear professionals for the future of nuclear energy management programmes in their countries. Sixty-one per cent of the 2023 cohort in South Africa were female, which bodes well for future gender balance in the nuclear field.

“In Zambia, the nuclear energy programme is in its infant stage and the Government is bringing people on board to support the programme.  The creation of a research reactor is an opportunity to involve stakeholders, so the lecture from Eskom, on the IAEA framework for stakeholder engagement was really useful to me. The technical tour of iThemba LABS was also highly relevant, as Zambia plans to produce radioisotopes in its new research reactor,” said Thandiwe Zulu, from the Ministry of Technology and Science in Zambia.

This latest training course is the 52nd Nuclear Energy Management School to be held overall. The Nuclear Energy Management Schools have been delivered since 2010, and the IAEA has now trained more than 1,000 participants from over 100 Member States.

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