Vienna, AUSTRIA September 25, 2023
In a historic address at the 67th Regular Session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, Hon. Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation of the Republic of Ghana, expressed gratitude for the vital partnership between Ghana and the IAEA, highlighting significant advancements in Ghana’s nuclear efforts.
Dr. Afriyie began by extending warm congratulations to Madam President and the members of the Bureau for their election, commending their professional conduct during the session. He also conveyed heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the IAEA, on his reappointment for a second term.
The Minister acknowledged the critical role played by the IAEA and development partners in providing technical and financial assistance to Ghana across various sectors. He emphasized the importance of this partnership in driving Ghana’s economic growth and development through the peaceful applications of nuclear technologies.
In the realm of nuclear power, Ghana’s efforts have been progressing steadily. Dr. Afriyie announced the issuance of a follow-up Request for Information (RFI) to prospective vendors, with responses and an assessment report expected to reach Cabinet for consideration by the close of 2023. Ghana remains committed to the IAEA Milestones Approach for adopting international best practices and looks forward to continued support from the IAEA.
The Minister highlighted the instrumental role of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programmes in shaping the competencies and skills of Ghana’s nuclear regulator, owner/operators, and the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). He also expressed gratitude for the Division for Africa’s support in procuring a Thermal Hydraulic Loop, which will enhance the training of postgraduates in nuclear engineering and related fields.
Dr. Afriyie revealed that Ghana had renewed bilateral technical cooperation agreements with the United States and Japan, aiming to build capacity in its nuclear industry to support infrastructure development. The country has also received academic opportunities from advanced nuclear nations such as South Korea, China, and Russia, enriching its nuclear program.
Radiation safety is paramount in Ghana’s nuclear journey, and the country is actively upgrading and expanding its Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory. Ghana is also willing to share its expertise in radioactive waste management with other Member States.
In addressing plastic waste challenges, Ghana welcomed the IAEA NUTEC Plastic Initiative, which supports research on recycling and microplastic monitoring using nuclear technology. The Marine Laboratory at GAEC has been designated as a Regional Laboratory for Microplastic Monitoring in the Marine Environment.
Dr. Afriyie acknowledged the pressing issue of cancer care in Ghana and West Africa due to a shortage of modern treatment facilities. The National Cancer Control Programme is under review, and Ghana seeks the IAEA’s technical input. He emphasized the importance of expanding facilities and announced Ghana’s intention to establish additional radiotherapy centers with the IAEA’s support.
Ghana has benefited from the IAEA ZODIAC project, ensuring timely responses to zoonotic disease outbreaks. Recently, the country faced an anthrax outbreak, producing 286,000 doses of anthrax spore vaccine with the IAEA’s assistance.
In agriculture, Ghana’s comprehensive intervention, in collaboration with the IAEA, has significantly increased cassava yields and addressed food security challenges. Dr. Afriyie recognized the potential of food irradiation and expressed Ghana’s interest in acquiring an irradiation facility for food preservation.
Ghana applauded the IAEA/FAO Partnership’s efforts in addressing food insecurity and malnutrition, especially the “Atoms4Food” initiative. Dr. Afriyie announced that the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the GAEC had been designated as an IAEA Collaborating Centre for Mutation Breeding and Related Technologies for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security.
In closing, Dr. Afriyie reaffirmed Ghana’s unwavering support for the IAEA in fulfilling its statutory duties and kindly requested the Agency’s continued support as Ghana applies peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology for sustainable development.