A five-day capacity-building workshop on nuclear security in Africa has opened in Accra with a focus on how national and international approaches can prevent terrorists, criminal gangs and armed merchants from accessing deadly nuclear and radioactive materials.
The workshop is organised by the African Centre for Science and International Security (AFRICSIS), in collaboration with the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies (CNS) of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey, California.
It is on the theme; “Nuclear security policy and practice in Africa” and it is aimed at broadening the capacity of end users of nuclear and radioactive materials, regulators, security specialists, journalists and policy makers.
It is also to create awareness of the nuclear security risks and threats and how pertinent they are to security, peace and stability.
Additionally, it is to enhance the ability of participants to bring African voices into the global debate and identify practical measures to enhance nuclear and radiological security.
The participants are drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Senegal, South Africa, Ethiopia, Togo, Cameroon and Egypt with speakers, including international organisations and national government representatives, from the international Atomic Energy Commission, the United States Department of Energy, African Commission on Nuclear Energy and the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
At the opening of the workshop, a scientist and researcher at the CNS, Dr Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, said nuclear and radioactive sources were used every day.
He said they were used in the medical and industrial sectors and in numerous research applications around the world.
However, he said, the mismanagement of radioactive and nuclear materials had the potential to cause harm to people, property and environment.
Dr Dalnoki-Veress said when radioactive nuclear materials got into the wrong hands, they could cause bodily harm, radiation contamination, significant social disruption and anxiety in communities.
The Director of AFRICSIS, Mr Hubert Foy, said the workshop was also to raise awareness of nuclear security risks and threats and how pertinent they were to the African continent.