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23. November 2015

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY MS L GREYLING, ALTERNATE RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE IAEA, AT THE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION COMMITTEE, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 23 NOVEMBER 2015, VIENNA

AGENDA ITEM 2: TECHNICAL COOPERATION: THE AGENCY’S PROPOSED PROGRAMME FOR 2016-2017

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Chairperson,

My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by the Ambassador of the Philippines, and with the statement delivered by South Africa on behalf of the African Group.

Chairperson,

My delegation greatly values the efforts of the Agency to build capacity for the application of nuclear and related technologies in Member States through the Technical Cooperation Programme.  

We have, on various occasions in this Board, reported on the success of  the South African African Renaissance Fund (ARF) initiative aimed at strengthening veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Africa, which is being implemented in conjunction with the USA and Japan funded PUI initiatives. South Africa’s ARF initiative forms the basis of the IAEA’s VETLAB Network in Africa and serves as an example for the VETLAB Network in Asia. There are currently 32 African and 7 Asian countries participating in the VETLAB Network.

As you may recall the IAEA's VETLAB Network enhanced Member States' capacities to face outbreaks of deadly zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and Avian Influenza recently.  The urgent needs of Member State to fight these devastating diseases were addressed in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. This work has resulted in the Joint FAO/IAEA Division and the Africa Technical Cooperation Division receiving the IAEA's Superior Achievement Award from DG-Amano.  My delegation wishes to congratulate the Agency for its outstanding efforts in this regard, proof once more of the benefits of  Technical Cooperation.

Chairperson,

South Africa continues to benefit from its close cooperation with the Technical Cooperation Secretariat.  Currently we have 11 active national projects, 9 of which will be closed at the end of 2015.  While most of the major activities have been implemented or initiated along with work plans of each project, we continue to urge our competent authorities to monitor and follow up with counterparts to take the necessary actions to achieve project goals.

For the current cycle South Africa has many success stories to record, such as the inauguration of the new Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) at iThemba Labs in South Africa in July 2014. This is the first ASM facility in Africa, which positions South Africa among the world leaders in accelerator-based research.  Experts across Africa will have access to a faster and more efficient method of sample analysis for radionuclides and radioisotopes. The facility will also be used for MSc and PhD training and is a valuable resource for scientific communities undertaking research in biomedical, archaeology, isotope hydrology, and paleo-sciences.

The IAEA provided support to South Africa to procure essential equipment for effective operation of the spectrometer.  In addition, two national staff members received IAEA fellowships, focussing on the preparation of samples, including measurements operations.

Chairperson,

On his visit to South Africa in March 2015, the Director General toured the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, one of South Africa’s key facilities for providing advanced health care for patients and offering research and training to professionals in the SADC region.  With IAEA support, the hospital has developed its health care and training capacities, including by integrating computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) into its nuclear medicine clinical practice.   South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) launched this scanner in April 2015, the first preclinical MicroPET scanner in Africa. This 400 000 EURO piece of equipment was funded jointly by Necsa, the North West University and the University of Pretoria.

MicroPET is also taking part in an IAEA project to establish a national preclinical imaging facility, which provides the capability to create visualizations of living animals for research and development purposes, such as developing new drugs. A future project will further strengthen clinical capacity in PET in South Africa, including the introduction of new radiopharmaceuticals in clinical practice. In future, this technology is expected to improve medication dosage for more accurate treatment of patients.

Chairperson,

It is projects such as these that bring to life the many tangible benefits provided by the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme.   This is why my delegation remains concerned that the resources available to the Technical Cooperation Programme are still not sufficient, assured and predictable (SAP).   South Africa will continue to work closely with the Secretary and other Member States to find a way to ensure that this programme of the Agency will be adequately funded in future. 

One of the key aspects in this regard is the voluntary contributions to the Fund by all Member States.  My delegation would therefore like to reiterate its support for the strengthened guidelines of the Due Account Mechanism.  Member States have an obligation to pay their assessed contributions.  When we do not meet these obligations we threaten the existence of the Technical Cooperation Fund.  Those countries who are paying, amongst which are  LDC’s, may in future find themselves in a position where they will have to justify to their  public as to why they are contributing to the TC Fund when other, wealthier countries are not contributing but still benefiting from the Fund.  We call on all Member States to pay on time and in full and to support the strengthening of the Due Account Mechanism to ensure that we will all continue to benefit from the work of the Agency.

Chairperson,

South Africa would also like to highlight the on-going ReNuAL project which South Africa is co-chairing with Germany.  At the onset, my delegation would like to show its appreciation for the financial contributions the project has received so far.  Out of the Euro 31 million needed to commence with the first phase of the laboratory renovations, the ReNuAL project has already realised Euro 24 million up to date, leaving a shortfall of only Euro 7 million.  This project is important to many Member States and this has been demonstrated by their financial and in-kind contributions which are valuable beyond what words can express.  In this regard, South Africa would especially like to thank the former DDG of Nuclear Applications who has contributed Euros 1000 in his personal capacity to show how important this project is.

Chairperson,

South Africa’s current Country Programme Framework (2012-2016) for TC is coming to an end next year December and a new phase beginning from 2017- 2022 will be agreed with the Agency. South Africa will undertake to design and properly align its Country Programme by choosing key and relevant projects that will continue to assist with South Africa’s socio-economic challenges. It will also be important for these projects to continue to be aligned with national development areas identified in the Country Programme Framework in line with the National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chairperson,

The Technical Cooperation Programme is the impetus behind many Member States’ aspirations to meet their socio-economic and sustainable development needs, especially in view of the Sustainable Development Goals as adopted this year.  We remind the Agency of the our undertaking during the GC this year, as reflected in the TC Resolution, to arrange a  Ministerial Conference in 2018 on nuclear science, technologies and applications for peaceful uses, and their delivery to Member States through the Agency’s TC programme, while highlighting their future contribution to sustainable development.  We look forward to working with the Secretariat and other Member States in this regard.

Chairperson,

With these remarks, my delegation would like to take note of the report and the recommendations articulated in GOV/2015/60.

I thank you.

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