Nuclear safety a priority in Africa

IN AUGUST last year, Russian State Nuclear Corporation (Rosatom) supported the inaugural ‘Enhancing Africa’s capacity on nuclear safety, security and safeguards in SADC countries’ conference in Lusaka. The event hosts were the African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN) in collaboration with the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in partnership with the European Union. The conference was fully supported by the Zambian government, numerous nuclear regulators as well as Rosatom and was attended by young professionals and seasoned experts from across the continent.

The two-day conference was officially opened by then Secretary to Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska who highlighted that safety is the key pillar of Zambia moving towards nuclear and commended AYGN for hosting the conference in Lusaka.

Zambia has committed to construct a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST) and plans to add 2000 MW of nuclear power to the nation’s grid over the next 10-15 years in order to promote industrial and economic growth. On May 15, 2018, the Zambian government and ROSATOM signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the CNST. The center will be located in Chongwe, east of Lusaka. The CNST will include a nuclear research facility based on a multipurpose research water-cooled reactor of up to 10 MW, a state of the art laboratory complex, multipurpose irradiation centre as well as a cyclotron-based nuclear medicine center. The project will be implemented in several stages from the work commencement date under the contract.

“Apart from electricity generation, nuclear technology offers Zambia a unique and exciting opportunity to begin to actualise the “Smart Zambia” mantra by using nuclear science and technology in non-power sectors such as medicine, agriculture and industry. This directly supports our ambitious and well-coordinated Patriotic Front industrialization and economic diversification agenda,” stated Dr Msiska in his speech.

AYGN president Gaopalelwe Santswere highlighted that the focus of the conference was to strengthen collaboration between local and international authorities on nuclear safety and safeguards in Africa as well as demystify nuclear in the region. “With many African nations moving towards nuclear with the aim of diversifying and bolstering their energy mixes to stimulate economic growth, collaboration in the sector and nurturing young talent is more vital than ever,” noted Santswere.

AYGN is a non-profit organization bringing together national networks for young professionals in the nuclear field and other related disciplines. Its prime mission is to address the socio-economic issues of the continent through promoting peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology by educating the general public and facilitating knowledge transfer from the current generation of leading nuclear industry experts to the young generations.

Speaking at the official launch of the Zambian chapter of AYGN, which took place during the Rosatom sponsored gala dinner, Ryan Collyer, communications director of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, expressed his appreciation to AYGN for the initiative they had shown in organising the vital safety conference as well as the role they have played in driving public awareness on the continent.

“We here are all very passionate about sharing the truth about nuclear to the people of our beautiful continent and we are therefore very humbled by AYGN’s efforts in this regard,” said Collyer.

“There are many misconceptions around our industry and it is these misconceptions that as an industry we should work together to dispel, it is time we deliver the good stories, the great stories and hopefully one day the nuclear industry will be celebrated for its grand achievement of bettering the lives of millions across the globe, rather than frowned upon for the simple reason of not being fully understood.” Rosatom

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