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” Uplifting Nuclear Safeguards in Africa”
Date: 3 November 2022
Venue: Vienna, Austria
Statement by the Executive Secretary of AFCONE
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for honouring the invitation to support the launching of this cooperation programme between the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and the European Commission, in collaboration with the government of Finland, to uplift safeguards in Africa.
Many thanks to the government of Finland and the European Commission for the generous financial support of 5M Euros for this programme. In particular, I wish to recognize the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK), who will be our partner during the five years of this ambitious programme, to share their long and extensive experience in implementing safeguards, and in developing “fit for purpose” safeguards capacity.
I am grateful for the strong showing of African Ambassadors, African Policy makers and other African stakeholders that are here tonight, for demonstrating through their presence, the political support of African governments, as well as the support of African civil society for this important programme.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my predecessor, Mr. Messaoud Baaliouamer of Algeria, who successfully proposed and negotiated the EC’s in-principle agreement to fund this programme.
This programme is very timely, and its importance cannot be overstated, given that the world is on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance, in particular in the generation of electricity from nuclear energy. 80% of Africans are currently without electricity. It is necessary, and urgent to bridge this energy gap, in order to be able to achieve the other United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals, as well as the African Union’s 2063 Agenda objectives.
To date, over a dozen African countries have indicated commitments to include nuclear energy in their electricity mixes. It is envisaged that, in the medium to long term, AFCONE would coordinate a regional approach for the introduction of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in Africa.
Other civil uses of nuclear energy include applications in areas such as education and research, medicine, human health, agriculture, nutrition, water resources and industry.
All of these civil nuclear applications are important drivers for the socioeconomic development and energy security of African countries. In the context of the civil uses of nuclear energy, I would like to acknowledge the work of AFRA with the support of the IAEA in the application of nuclear science and technology in Africa. We intend to work together to further strengthen nuclear science and technology in Africa.
In order for African countries to fully engage in the international cooperation that is necessary to reap the benefits of the civil applications of nuclear energy, the existence and functioning must be demonstrated of the legislative, institutional, and technical frameworks for ensuring that nuclear energy is only used for peaceful purposes. Effective safeguards are the ONLY means by which such an enabling environment can be demonstrated; and that is exactly what this cooperation programme will deliver.
In the implementation of this programme, AFCONE will be partnering with STUK, to leverage more than half a century of Finnish experience, in order to establish a benchmark for sustainable safeguards capacity building, in particular in States that are newly embarking on nuclear power programmes, as well as in States with none or minimal nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.
Africa has historically been at the forefront of promoting and furthering nuclear non-proliferation. The only piece of the puzzle that has been holding Africa back has been the lack of effective safeguards implementation. Through this ambitious programme, we are confident that the enabling environment would be established for engendering peace, security, development, and prosperity in Africa, through the agency of nuclear energy.
The programme will start in 2023, with a pilot phase involving ten countries, that have been selected mostly based on their uranium resources. In this way, the initial phase of the programme will cover the entire spectrum of safeguards capacity to be transferred to African countries. The project design would take into account detailed needs assessment surveys, as well as experience, lessons learnt and best practices in the implementation of safeguards.
The pilot programme activities will take place mainly at STUK facilities in Finland, at the safeguards regional collaborating centres in Pelindaba, South Africa, and in Algiers, as well as in Namibia.
In order to monitor the effectiveness of the programme objectives, and to ensure the sustainability of the programme outcomes, AFCONE will implement outreach activities throughout the African continent, to participating countries, to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), as well as to the African Union Commission.
AFCONE and STUK plan to participate at the next African Union summit in Addis Ababa in February 2023 to raise awareness to the highest policy making organ in Africa, about the importance and timeliness of this programme; and incidentally about the key role that nuclear energy can play in African development.
Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, through this programme, we are participants at a crossroads in the history of African development, and we are counting on your support to steer successfully.
I would now like to invite His Excellency, Rapulane Molekane, the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to make some remarks.
Thank you for your attention.