Astana, Pretoria, 25 September 2017. ISTC and the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) have jointly convened on 7 and 8 September in Pretoria the inaugural meeting of the project “Support to Southern African States in Nuclear Safety and Safeguards” (project MC 5.01/15B), funded by the European Union’s Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation. Mr. Eddie Maier, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Dr. Bismark Tyobeka, Chief Executive Officer, NNR, and Ms. Elsie Monale, Chief Director, Nuclear Non – Proliferation and Radiation Security at the Ministry of Energy of South Africa made opening remarks, setting the scene for the presentation of project MC 5.01/15B and putting the discussion in context. Dr Kamen Velichkov, ISTC Senior Programme Manager and Diplomatic Advisor provided updates on the Inception phase of the project and suggested its Key Performance indicators, Communication and Work Plan, and Implementation Schedule. Twenty-three government officials and experts from Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and the RSA together with representatives of the European Union and the implementing partner – the ISTC, took part in the discussion.

The transportation of Uranium Ore Concentrates (UOC) crosses several countries in the Southern part of Africa from its production site to the export seaport. A regional approach that enhances the communication between the concerned states and organizations and that could support a process of harmonization of the rules and procedures that currently apply on a national basis is a major goal of Project MC 5.01/15B. Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia are the four participating countries, whereas South Africa – as a neighboring country – is vitally interested to join the project’s activities by sharing experience and expertise in the field.

The inaugural discussion confirmed the active support for the project on behalf of the participating countries, represented at the meeting. They welcomed the NNR involvement and suggested the enlargement of the project Steering Committee to include new members from RSA. They reiterated the shared goal of working regionally to co-operate on issues of mutual interest in particular on trans-boundary transport of radioactive sources or uranium ore. Participating countries suggested expanding the scope of information exchange to allow exchange on movements of sources. They agreed that the strengthening of nuclear safety and security culture should go hand in hand with awareness raising in favor of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The intended proposed harmonization activity should also involve the relevant regional organization, in this case the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in order to ensure political support, ownership and sustainability. However, this might only happen in a later stage. It was suggested that a working meeting of the SADC Nuclear Regulatory Network should be convened by RSA (current head of SADC rotating chairmanship) bringing together the concerned states, SADC and experts from other regions who have dealt with similar transport issues.

Project MC 5.01/15B seeks synergies with a parallel EU-funded project under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), namely P 60 “Support to The Centre of Excellence of Eastern and Central Africa in Nuclear Security”. Together, they illustrate the internationally recommended “Triple S” approach addressing simultaneously the nuclear safety, safeguards and security issues. As the implementing partner, ISTC will join forces with competent institutions from academia, civil and public sectors in South Africa to ensure the efficient implementation of project MC 5.01/15B.