Nuclear scientists and experts are meeting in Accra to review the efforts of member states of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research and Development and Training (AFRA) related to nuclear science and technology for the peaceful promotion of nuclear technology in development
The five-day meeting, which is the 29th Technical Working Group of AFRA, is being organised by AFRA, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and hosted by Ghana.
Addressing the opening session yesterday, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, announced that the government was looking for an appropriate piece of land for a nuclear power plant that would add about 4,500 megawatts (MW) to the country’s power generation capacity.
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He said the land for the nuclear power plant must, among several other considerations, be resilient to earthquakes and flooding.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the government would sustainably increase funding for research and development until funding for the sector reached appreciable levels of 2.5 per cent of the budget.
He said innovations in science and technology were the basis of most developed countries, hence the commitment of the government to support science and research through increased funding.
He noted that the focus of AFRA, which is to build capacity in nuclear science across member states, was in “sync with Ghana’s current development agenda which puts human development at the centre”.
The Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Dr Dazhu Yang, who also addressed the meeting, expressed happiness that the meeting would discuss radiation safety and the deployment of nuclear innovation in health and agriculture.
For him, the inability of some member states to conform to safety requirements limited their ability to fully enjoy the full potential of nuclear science in their strides to develop.
He was also happy that the group would discuss the AFRA agreement and pledged the continued support of the IAEA through collaboration with Africa through the group.
Dr Yang reminded the group of current dynamics, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s (AU’s) Vision 2030 and urged the participants to take all of them into consideration in any review they did.
The IAEA Technical Cooperation Africa Director, Mr Shaukat Abdulrazak, in his remarks, encouraged member states to collaborate more and demystify nuclear science for the benefit and awareness of their citizens.
He said there were various opportunities open in the sector and urged member states to improve upon their modes and quality of reporting for the telling of better nuclear science in development stories.
The Chairperson of AFRA, Mr Sabbiti Baguma, in his statement, said the meeting would provide the participants with a platform for them to reflect on the AFRA agreement and the way forward.
He reminded the group of previous decisions and expressed the hope that conclusions would be reached for the next major meeting of the IAEA in the course of the year.
The Chairperson for the opening ceremony, Dr Kweku Aning, noted that Ghana had lagged behind in the deployment of nuclear technology for development and expressed the hope that the situation would change, given the cooperation among members.
AFRA came into being on April 4,