National Liaison Officers and AFRA Coordinators Work to Optimize Impact of Nuclear Technologies in Africa

National Liaison Officers (NLOs) and National Coordinators of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA-NCs) from 37 countries in Africa gathered in Abuja, Nigeria to assess and improve the implementation of the IAEA technical cooperation (TC) programme on the continent. The meeting served to review progress and provide a reporting platform on the regional TC programme.

Held from 21 to 25 March, the annual meeting provided an opportunity for 51 African stakeholders of the TC programme to exchange views on policy, strategy and programme-level issues relevant to both NLOs and AFRA-NCs. Participants considered how Africa can continue the momentum and further increase the impact of IAEA support; how stakeholders and the IAEA can forge new, and optimise existing, partnerships; and how synergies can be built to improve coordination among African nuclear institutions to ensure that available resources are leveraged in the most efficient way possible.

The opening session was chaired by Yusuf Ahmed, Chairman and Chief Executive of NAEC and NLO of Nigeria, whose remarks were followed by high-level government participants of the Federal Government of Nigeria, including representatives of Boss Mustafa, Secretary to the Government; Dr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister for Science and Technology; and the Director General of the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA).

“This meeting was an opportunity for participants to discuss strategies to improve the implementation of capacity building activities, the delivery of expert advice and the exchange of knowledge among African nuclear experts and decision-makers,” said Yusuf Ahmed, Chairman of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), in his opening remarks.

Meeting participants reviewed IAEA and in-country operational frameworks, process workflows and management approaches. They assessed implementation of the 2020–2021 programme and discussed how to strengthen approaches to ensure the efficient implementation of the current cycle, which was launched in January 2022. For the next TC Cycle 2024-2025, participants explored how to strengthen the project design process to ensure alignment with Country Programme Frameworks (CPFs) and national development priorities, and how to enhance complementarity between regional and national projects. An added emphasis was also placed on the design of fewer, but bigger and more integrated projects, with a focus on achieving tangible results and direct impact.

“The theme for our meeting this year is ‘Sharpening the Saw,’” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA TC Division for Africa. “In this context, the meeting was a chance to pause, disconnect and self-introspect, with the intention of becoming more effective, more efficient and more impactful.”

“NLOs and AFRA-NCs need to enhance and instil the concept of leadership, sustainability, gender balance, ethics and accountability as key pillars to achieve socio-economic impact, within their designated roles,” he added.

Recommendations emerging from the meeting were catalogued into three categories—enhanced ownership, improved impact and improved complementarity—and subsequently adopted as part of a draft meeting report.

On the margins of the NLO Meeting, staff from the TC Division for Africa organized one-on-one discussions with national representatives to accelerate the development of CPFs, the promulgation of national nuclear laws, the establishment of regulatory bodies, and the optimization of NLO participation in various IAEA activities.

NAEC, the host organization, also arranged a site visit to the Multipurpose Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF) at the Nuclear Technology Centre (NTC) of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHETSCO) in Abuja, which provides vital irradiation services to private companies and government agencies.

This event’s closing session was chaired by the AFRA National Coordinator for Niger, Ali Ada, with final remarks deliveed by Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, Minister of State, Finance, Budget and National Planning of Nigeria.

37 African countries were represented in this regional meeting, namely: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency

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