09. September 2013

Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Resident Representative/Governor of the Republic of South Africa, International Atomic Energy Agency, Board of Governors


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South Africa associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the G77 and China by the Ambassador of Sudan and by the Ambassador of Kenya on behalf of the African Group

We thank the Director General and the Secretariat for the preparation of a comprehensive report on “Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications” and its supplementary documentation.


South Africa initiated the project for the Improvement of Veterinary Laboratory Capacities in sub-Saharan African Countries through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) in cooperation with the IAEA.  We are pleased with the activities that have been undertaken in the first year of the project’s implementation which has resulted in the creation of a network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa.  These laboratories are already performing diagnostics and developing human resource capacity in the region, thus contributing to an early warning system and prevention of diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF) and Peste des petite ruminants (PPR).

The three main laboratories identified under this project in Ethiopia, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire, are already able to perform nuclear and nuclear-related serological and molecular diagnostics with the training and equipment they received under this project. Quite often highly infectious suspected pathological samples were previously sent to laboratories outside the African continent. The main laboratories will soon be able to provide this service to other laboratories in the region. In addition, the Agency has established, as part of this project, a “Veterinary Laboratory Database” of the three main laboratories and its 25 neighbouring participating veterinary laboratories.

This veterinary diagnostic network is already being acknowledged by experts in the veterinary field as a viable network and there is a growing demand in the region for laboratories to join the network.  Whereas 13 laboratories were originally included under this project, this number has increased to 28. The challenge for the remaining three years of this project will be to capitalize on the momentum created by the project by accommodating the growing interest of countries within the budget and workplan of the project. It is envisaged that countries involved in the project will meet in early 2014 to review lessons learned, share experiences and to plan ahead.

My delegation would like to thank the USA and Japan for its support to the project through the PUI.  We would also like to thank Japan for their announcement of their additional US$ 131,000. One hundred thousand Euros is still required for this project (based on the original budget) to be fully funded and this figure may need to be adjusted depending on the findings of the “stock taking” meeting in 2014.


My delegation would like to take the opportunity to again emphasise the importance of the work of the IAEA/FAO Joint Division Agency’s Nuclear Application Laboratories in Seibersdorf.  These laboratories not only play a vital role in the development of technologies which, in their application, profoundly influence economic growth in countries plagued by pests such as the Tstetse fly, but they also play a leading role in the establishment of global laboratory networks such as the animal disease control network  under the ARF initiative in Africa.

My delegation thanks the Director General for his report on the renovation of the Nuclear Application Laboratories in Seibersdorf and thanks the Secretariat for the efforts made toward developing a concept and a strategic plan of action for the modernization of the laboratories.  We welcome the establishment of the ReNuAL project which is in included in the 2014-2015 Programme and Budget. We note the recommendations made by the Agency’s Standing Advisory Group on Nuclear Applications (SAGNA) and call on the Agency to heed its recommendation that priority should be given to the redesign and expansion of infrastructure including buildings, safety, security and administration. We also welcome the fact that the project draws on lessons learned in the ECAS project.  We hope that Member States will heed the call  of the Secretariat to make financial commitments and contributions, which will allow for the initiation of the implementation phase of the ReNuAL project by no later than 2014 and for its conclusion by 2017.  We look forward to working closely with the Agency on the implementation of the project through the “friends of ReNuAL” mechanism.


South Africa welcomes the significant progress made in the transfer of the ownership and operation of the Virtual University for Cancer Control and Regional Training Network (VUCCnet) for Africa to the region in 2013.  The six member states, of which South Africa is one, met in 2013 and agreed to establish VUCCnet as an intergovernmental organisation to best facilitate the inter-regional cooperative approach. This IGO will be formally linked with existing regional education and training institutions across the region and support access to accredited academic programmes in radiation medicine and other subjects across the cancer control spectrum.

My delegation congratulates the Office of PACT for the success achieved with this pilot programme and would urge the Agency to expand the VUCCnet to other countries in the region.  My delegation is of the opinion that  VUCCnet can be replicated in other regions of the world as an effective and sustainable approach to education and training in cancer control, including  radiation medicine.

With these remarks, Chairperson, my delegation concurs with the recommended action in document GOV/2012/32 – GC (57)/9 and takes note of the report.

Thank you.

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