Young African professionals, EU experts discuss how to communicate safety and security of nuclear technologies and uranium mining


19 November 2017, Brussels, Astana. Representatives of the ISTC and the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) of the European Commission hosted on 13-14 November in Brussels young African professionals in nuclear for an expert meeting on nuclear communication and advocacy. The meeting was convened in the framework of Project MC 5.01/15B “Support to Southern African States in Nuclear Safety and Safeguards” and Project 60 “Support to the EU CBRN ECA CoE in Nuclear Security”.Mr. Eddie Maier, Deputy Head of Unit B5, EC DEVCO reminded that on numerous occasions and most recently at the Inaugural meeting of the Project MC 5.01/15B (Centurion, RSA, 7-8 September 2017) participating countries made requests for assistance in improving communication on nuclear topics with various stakeholders, including communities on the route of uranium ore transportation in the region.                 

Ms. Geneviève Lizin, EC Program Manager, Unit B5, EC DEVCO presented the goals and working packages of Project MC 5.01/15B. The needs of the beneficiary countries (Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia and SADC as a regional organization) will be addressed through training modules organized at a regional level to strengthen networking. An exercise simulating the transport of uranium ore concentrate from Tanzania to Walvis Bay, will allow testing a web-based cross-border real-time communication system, designed to report incidents and movement of nuclear materials and facilitate document exchange and verification.

Dr. Margaret Mkhosi, Director, Centre for Nuclear Safety and Security (CNSS) talked about the role of the RSA National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in the implementation of Project MC 5.01/15B.  The NNR involvement will include contribution to the Project Steering Committee and Working group composition and help to identify project’s impacts and benefits for each participating country. Working through its CNSS, NNR will organize training events, workshops and progress feedback; provide training and technical support relevant to the project; will participate in the development of the web-based communication system.

Mr. Kamen Velichkov, ISTC discussed the Communication and Visibility Plan of Project MC 5.01/15 B.  The project’s objectives, results and achievements are to be presented correctly and to be shared with appropriate audiences, including youth generation in nuclear from the participating countries. A dedicated website is under construction, while currently, information about Project MC 5.01/15 B is included on the Project 60 website.

Mr. Pascal Daures, Head of Sector Nuclear Safety Preventive and Corrective Actions, B5, DEVCO, pointed out that a Regional case study under MC 5.01 15B is meant to facilitate harmonization of the national legal frameworks and practices. Mr. Daures welcomed the intention of both ISTC and CNSS in preparing the training under MC 5.01 15B to draw on the expertise of the European Nuclear Education Network, a reservoir of expertise in the nuclear fields with regard to higher education and training. It was also underlined that the web-based system should be designed in a modular way allowing other SADC countries to join the net in the future.

On behalf of the Kenyan Young Generation in Nuclear (KYGN), one of the citizen’s voices on the African continent that try to demystify the nuclear, Dr. Pamella Kageliza Kilavi, President, talked about this non-profit organization, which is an affiliate of the International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC). KYGN brings on board scientists and students with special interest in the nuclear science and allied fields. Its activities revolve around three areas: advocacy for peaceful, safe and secure uses of nuclear science and technology; communication of the benefits of nuclear power, as part of a balanced energy mix; promotion of the environmental credentials of nuclear energy. KYGN cooperates with partners from the industry, academia and with international organizations. Through the EU CBRN CoE in East and Central Africa, KYNG helped spread information about Project 60.

The young generation networks in Africa were presented by Mr. Raphael Chesori, Secretary General, African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN). Inaugurated on 29th March 2017 following a successful pan-African summit supported by CBRN Project 60, AYGN is a non-profit organization that brings together national networks of young professionals in nuclear field. It is a continental affiliate body to IYNC, offering a platform to share, exchange ideas and network on issues related to nuclear science and technology in Africa and globally. To this end, AYGN aims to establish recognition of this Network within the ambient of African Union Commission, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), AFRA and SADC. Currently AYGN has chapters in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, DR Congo, Cameroon and Uganda.

Ms. Marielle Rogie, Director, Belgium Nuclear Forum (BNF) presented the Forum’s mission, goals and ways of communicating its messages and reaching out to the general public and expert audiences.  BNF is a professional association representing the interests of actors of nuclear technology (energy, industry and health) in Belgium. The organization develops general public campaigns, debates and lobby actions among political and economic stakeholders, and works with members of the press. The organization is a content provider through its dedicated website and social media means. Thus, BNF succeeds to explain, share, simplify and adapt the messages and to facilitate the dialogue of the nuclear community with the public at large, with the aim to ensure public acceptance.

Dr Margaret Mkhosi, who is a member of the Executive Board of Global Women in Nuclear (WiN), made a presentation on African Women in Nuclear (WiN).  In Africa, well established chapters exist in Egypt and in South Africa, while in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya they are at an initial stage. In South Africa the activities of the organization comprise a WiN-Africa STEM Day, programs at rural schools, establishment of a Youth in Engineering Science & Technology club, etc.

The participants in the meeting discussed the tentative program of the upcoming AYGN-KYGN Integrated Workshop on Nuclear Advocacy and Communication (29-30 November, 2017, Nairobi) and the possibilities for EC/ISTC sponsored participation in the event.

In summing up the discussions, Mr. Eddie Maier commented that the goals and objectives of Project MC 5.01/15B “Support to Southern African States in Nuclear Safety and Safeguards” and Project 60 “Support to the EU CBRN ECA CoE in Nuclear Security” should be accepted by the population in the concerned African countries. In this respect, the role of youth and of women is crucially important, also for cultural reasons. In some countries, the cultural systems in place are under the leadership of women, and their role is very important. From this point of view, organizations like AYGN, KYGN, and AWiN are valuable and indispensable partners. Their involvement in relevant communication activities may enhance the implementation and magnify the impact of both projects.

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