National Liaison Officers & AFRA National Coordinators meeting in Rabat, Morocco 19-23 February 2024

National Liaison Officers & AFRA National Coordinators meeting in Rabat, Morocco 19-23 February 2024

The Annual NLOs and AFRA NCs meeting in Rabat, Morocco

From 19 to 23 February 2024, the Annual Meeting of National Liaison Officers (NLOs) and AFRA National Coordinators (AFRA NCs) brought together in Morocco, Rabat 62 NLOs and AFRA NCs from 42 African countries. They reviewed and discussed progress, challenges, opportunities, and collaborative efforts to enhance peaceful application of nuclear science and technology through the IAEA technical cooperation programs (TCP). The meeting, focused on the theme “Moving Africa from potential to prosperity using nuclear science and technology” to emphasize on the crucial role nuclear science and technology plays in addressing national and regional challenges to sustainable development in Africa.

The 2024 meeting underscored the need for cooperation, partnerships, and innovative approaches to fast track and maximize the benefits of nuclear technology for socioeconomic development in the continent.

In her opening statement, H.E. Ms. Leila BENALI, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, welcomed all participants to Rabat, Morocco, and stated that Africa possesses immense potential, but its transformation into tangible prosperity remains a major challenge. “Today, the judicious exploitation of nuclear science and technology offers a path towards a future of growth and sustainable prosperity and the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) is of crucial importance in facilitating cooperation and knowledge sharing among Member States” she said.

In his statement, Mr Liu Hua, IAEA’s Deputy Director General referred to the pivotal role of NLOs and AFRA NCs to strengthen commitment, ownership and leadership in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring and reporting of the technical cooperation programme to increase programme efficiency and effectiveness to achieve greater impact. “Your work is vital to national ownership of the TCP and its success” he said. He also encouraged participants to adopt concrete, realistic and implementable recommendations that will further improve the quality and management of the TCP in the region.

Mr. Hamid Marah, DG of CNESTN in his remarks thanked the IAEA for the valuable support to develop and enhance national and regional capacities in all relevant areas of nuclear sciences and technology and emphasized on the importance of collaboration among African countries in nuclear science and technology for socio-economic development.

Mr. Saïd Mouline, Director General of Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security (AMSSNuR), underlined the progress made in the continent to enhance nuclear safety and security and the efforts accomplished by the African countries to establish their national regulatory infrastructure. “Fostering the development of fundamental nuclear knowledge, will empower African countries to apply it across a spectrum of fields, thereby enhancing the quality of life and meeting priority development needs” he added.

In his presentation, Mr. Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of IAEA TCAF, stressed on the need for building synergies, commitment, leadership, and strong coordination mechanism to overcome obstacles facing the continent. Adding that “IAEA initiatives such as Rays of Hope, Atoms4food, ZODIAC and NUTEC plastic, represent unconventional dimension taken by the Agency to tackle major problems facing SDGs goals in Member states using nuclear technology”. He stressed on the IAEA's readiness to partner with MSs to change the trajectory of NST in the African region. The participants were taken also for a field visit to CNESTN facilities which included visiting the Research Reactor laboratory, Isotope hydrology laboratory and NDT laboratory.

The meeting adopted nine (9) recommendations focusing on the following three topical issues;

  1. Government commitment and ownership
  2. Coordination, partnerships and visibility
  3. Capacity building

The NLOs and AFRA NCs finally renewed their commitment to strengthening regional cooperation, partnerships, and enhancing capacity building to address Africa’s development challenges.