2 June 2014
25 years ago, motivated by common development goals, IAEA Member States from the African region requested the Agency’s assistance in establishing an arrangement for regional cooperation. The result of that formal request was the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA), which came into force on 4 April, 1990.
Since then, the AFRA agreement has broadened the contribution of nuclear science and technology to the socioeconomic development of the continent. To celebrate 25 years of cooperation under the agreement, the 25th Technical Working Group Meeting (TWGM) of AFRA was organized to coincide with the anniversary. Hosted by the Government of Lesotho, the meeting was held from 19-23 May in Maseru, and benefitted from the attendance of national liaison officers (NLOs) and AFRA national coordinators from IAEA Member States in the region.
Focus groups, exhibitions and a day-long seminar all served to highlight the impact that the IAEA technical cooperation (TC) programme has had in Africa in the preceding quarter-century. Presentations were also organized to delineate the current and future challenges and opportunities faced by AFRA, particularly its contributions to the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda.
Mr Dazhu Yang, Director of the Division for Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation, provided the opening remarks of the TWGM, and underscored the benefits of networking, “Africa is blessed with many natural resources, but the most important resource it has are its people and the IAEA is determined to work together with your countries in further developing and empowering this precious asset.”
As a conclusion to the Technical Working Group Meeting, a list of recommendations for participating representatives was adopted. These included inviting new Member States to join AFRA, enhanced collaboration with the African Union Commission, and implementing measures to further improve regional cooperation.
In order to enhance coordination, save time and cut costs, the IAEA held a concurrent meeting with National Liaison Officers of African Member States. The meeting explored policies and actions which could improve programme efficiency and effectiveness and maximize the socioeconomic benefits derived from ongoing and forthcoming TC projects.
As of today, AFRA States Parties includes 39 African Member States, all of whom cooperate in pursuit of mutual goals, which include the many peaceful applications of nuclear technology and techniques. The celebrations of AFRA’s 25th anniversary will culminate in September 2014 with an exhibition and a panel discussion, taking place on the margins of the 58th Annual Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference.