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Topnews, Statements

13. September 2022

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY MR LUNGA BENGU, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY, PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 6 : Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications

Madam Chair

1.     My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the G77 and China, the African Group and the co-chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL respectively and I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.

2.     South Africa welcomes the Report by the Director General and affirms the direct contribution the peaceful use of nuclear power and non-nuclear power applications make towards the promotion and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the developmental aspirations contained in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. My Delegation is of the firm belief that the Agency’s activities, as reflected in the Director General’s report, highlight the IAEA’s commitment to its motto and mandate.

3.     The on-going support provided by the Agency to African Member States under the AU-PATTEC initiative, as detailed in Annex 2 of the Report is appreciated as it continues to make progress in the eradication of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis on our Continent. With the Agency’s continued assistance, we can completely eradicate this disease. We also thank the Agency’s support regarding the integration of Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) operations in area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) campaigns.

4.     South Africa is a proud recipient of the IAEA’s Sterile Insect Technique  Package for the Management of Disease Transmitting Mosquitoes. Wherever it has been implemented SIT has been successful in yielding long-term efficient and cost-effective results. Our national project titled Assessing the Sterile Insect Technique for Malaria Mosquitos in a South African Setting which has resulted in Africa’s first mosquito mass rearing facility continues to operate successfully with the valuable assistance provided by the Agency. 

5.     With regard to Food and Agriculture, as contained in Annex 5 and a developmental priority for South Africa, my delegation welcomes the capacity building and emergency interventions provided by the Agency, through the VETLAB Network. Chair, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that animal transmitted diseases know no borders, and can devastate the human and animal health globally. The recent global Monkeypox outbreak, as well as the Foot-and-mouth and African Swine Fever disease outbreaks in Southern Africa are reminders of the transmissibility of zoonotic diseases, and we plead with Member States to contribute to ZODIAC and the VETLAB Network in order to support the timeous diagnosis, characterisation and treatment of transboundary and zoonotic diseases.

6.     Livestock is a key source of income and development for South Africa and it is in this regard that we take this opportunity to thank the Agency for including my country in Coordinated Research Projects on the practical applications of nuclear and related genomic information to improve the efficiency of national livestock breeding programmes. This use of nuclear applications directly contributes to the attainment of our national priorities, including human health and enhancing food safety and security, which in turn directly addresses one of our major challenges, the eradication of poverty.  

7.     On ZODIAC, South Africa will continue to use its expertise and participate in the Senior Expert Team to Implement Bio-risk Management Systems in ZODIAC National Laboratories.

8.     It would be remiss of my delegation not to acknowledge the work of the  Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture which, alongside the Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf remain integral to these activities.

9.     On Nuclear Knowledge Management, Chair, my delegation reaffirms its commitment to Capacity building and Human Resources Development. While having the most advanced nuclear programme on our Continent, and (host) of one of the world’s first nuclear power stations designed to be specifically resistant to earthquakes – South Africa has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in nuclear and nuclear-related matters. It was, therefore, an honour to host the 3rd South Africa–IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School for participants from 13 Member States, with the purpose of providing an international educational experience for future leaders and managers of nuclear energy programmes in both newcomer countries and those with established programmes from across Africa.

10.  Moreover, it would be remiss of my delegation to speak on and highlight the value in the Agency’s activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications without emphasising that women and youth need to be centralised in these activities and programmes. In this regard, we thank the Director General for initiating the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, which young South African women continue to benefit from .

11.  On Nuclear Power applications and in particular, nuclear energy, South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2019 includes nuclear power as part of our 20 year electricity generation plan. Our 2 500 megawatts Nuclear New Build Programme is further informed by South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Policy of 2008 which encompasses nuclear energy in our strategies to mitigate climate change. In this regard, we are pleased with concurrence of the National Electricity Regulator with the Ministerial Determination which paves the way for preparations for the procurement of the Nuclear New Build Programme which is intended to be concluded in 2024. Our procurement process will be guided by international best practice and the IAEA’s milestone approach.  In addition, South Africa remains committed to the continued safe operation of Africa’s only commercial power plant, Koeberg.

12.  With these remarks, Chair, my delegation takes notes of document GOV/2022/30 and all its annexures.

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