Deputy Prime Minister opens meeting on Nuclear Science and Technology

A new comprehensive Bill will soon be introduced in Parliament that will cover safety and security as well as meet the requirements of the latest international safety standards and the international instruments ratified by Mauritius. This is in line with Government’s commitment to further strengthen our national regulatory infrastructure.

This announcement was made this morning by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr. Ivan Collendavelloo, at the opening of the five-day African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) meeting which is being held at Voila Hotel in Bagatelle. Some 40 regional and non-regional experts are attending.

The Deputy Prime Minister emphasised that Mauritius wants to join the category of ‘green’ countries for compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) international safety standards by 2020. He recalled that AFRA with the support of IAEA has significantly helped African Member States to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. Collendavelloo pointed out that Mauritius, which has joined AFRA in 1990, has acquired significant assistance and expertise in the field of sterile insect techniques, nuclear medicine and mutation breeding for improved crops. An African training hub against fruit flies which cause major economic losses to farmers has also been set up, he said.

He further added that in the health sector, Mauritius has benefitted from technical assistance to improve nuclear medicine and radiotherapy services and consolidate capacity building on the risk factors for non-communicable diseases using stable isotopes.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, it is imperative to take into account the aspect of safety in the application of nuclear science and technology in the various areas of activities. Considerable efforts, he pointed out, are being made to strengthen our regulatory infrastructure for safety and one important milestone was the setting up of the Radiation Protection Authority as the national regulatory body for the control of the use of ionizing radiation.

The Chairperson of AFRA, Mr. M. Sabedi spoke extensively about the agreement’s contribution to the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals. He noted that AFRA has the expertise and competencies necessary to contribute to almost all of the MDGs. For example, by encouraging the cultivation of more resilient, nutritious crops, AFRA’s food and agricultural activities have the potential to positively affect poverty, human health and child nutrition in the region.

He also highlighted that many challenges exist, such as lack of awareness of nuclear science and technology and lack of academic programmes to train scientists in different sectors, but noted that he was nevertheless hopeful for AFRA’s future prospects.

The Task-Force Meeting

The Task Force Meeting for the Formulation of a Regional Strategic Cooperative Framework (RCF) is being held from 19 to 23 March 2018. It is hosted by the Government of Mauritius with the support of the IAEA and AFRA.

The objectives are: to review the SWOT Analysis based on the critical assessment report and working document with a view to developing strategic programmes focusing on the priority areas of Human Health, Food and Agriculture and Radiation Safety including developing key performance indicators, and to establish technical cooperation/triangular cooperation to play a critical role in enhancing African Member States capacity to benefit from nuclear science and technology including the other thematic areas (energy development, industrial applications, water resources).

The expected output of the meeting will be an advanced draft of the AFRA RCF, based on the identification and analysis of current and new regional trends, priorities and challenges in nuclear science and technology in the African region, highlighting AFRA’s priority cooperative programme areas for the period 2019-2023 in support of the region’s peaceful uses of nuclear applications for its socio-economic development.

The new RCF will include adequate strategic programmes to address the fundamental of safety infrastructure in a manner that ensures a systematic and profound improvement in the safety infrastructure that allows other programmes to be safely implemented. It will also address human resource needs required for safe utilisation of nuclear science and technology applications through research, education and training. Programmes that will lead to maximizing the impact of nuclear science and technology in the identified thematic areas will also be included in the new RCF.

Source: Government of Mauritius