The African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA), with support from the IAEA, held its 30th Technical Working Group Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa from 15 to 19 July. The meeting provided the opportunity for AFRA States-Parties to discuss and finalize the agenda of the AFRA High-Level Policy Meeting, a ministerial conference scheduled to take place from 4 to 7 November.
Hosted by the Government of South Africa, the meeting brought together 34 National Coordinators, the Chairs of two AFRA Committees and IAEA staff to discuss the review of the AFRA Agreement and Procedures, the allocation of Regional Designated Centres and preparations for the High-Level Policy Meeting.
In service of the established development priorities of the region, the participants reviewed new and potential partnerships, developed a strategy for how capacity building can accelerate the application of nuclear science and technology for development, discussed proposed priorities for the 2020-2021 technical cooperation (TC) programme and the preparations for the 30th Anniversary of the AFRA Agreement next year.
The meeting was opened by Samson Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, who offered his country’s assistance to help other AFRA States benefit from nuclear technology, in the spirit of Technical Cooperation Among Developing Countries (TCDC) and south-south cooperation.
Professor Benjamin Nyarko, Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and AFRA Chair, emphasized the increased impact of the AFRA Programme in 2018, due to the collective efforts made by all Contracting States. Furthermore, he encouraged all AFRA States to make timely contributions to the AFRA Fund.
Mickel Edwerd, Section Head in the IAEA’s Division for Africa, emphasized the importance of the AFRA High-Level Policy Meeting, planned for November 2019. “The High-Level Policy Meeting presents the AFRA States-Parties with an indispensable opportunity for the Agreement, and the activities implemented through it, to act as a driver for nuclear science and technology for development in the next 10 to 15 years. We must plan effectively to take advantage of the unique opportunities before us.”
The meeting concluded with recommendations to further enhance AFRA’s effectiveness, both at the policy and programme levels.