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07. Juni 2016

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 7 JUNE 2016, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 4: STRENGTHENING OF THE AGENCY’S TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES

TECHNICAL COOPERATION REPORT

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Chairperson,

My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the G77 and China and the African Group respectively. I would like to make the following remarks in our national capacity.

Chairperson,

South Africa welcomes the Technical Cooperation Report which provides an overview of the Agency’s technical cooperation activities and achievements as well as challenges in 2015. Technical cooperation is a key element of the IAEA statutory mandate as well as an important delivery vehicle of Nuclear Science and Technology to Member States to assist them to realize their development objectives and goals.

As highlighted in this report, Member States continue to receive support from the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme in a wide range of development areas ranging from Human Health, Food and Agriculture to Industrial Applications.

The South African delegation welcomes with appreciation that during the reporting period, the Agency supported 45 African Member States, of which 26 were least developed countries (LCDs) with a particular focus on poverty alleviation and fostering socio- economic development.

South Africa also welcomes the fact that technical cooperation projects in the African continent are tailored to meet specific national and regional development needs and priorities as reflected in the individual Country Programme Frameworks (CPFs) and the African Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA).

In this regard, my delegation is pleased to note that 15 Member States, including Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia from the African continent signed the CPFs in 2015. Our CPF is coming to an end in 2016, and we are currently in a process of developing a new CPF. We will seek to align the new CPF with our country’s National Development Plan.

Chairperson,

As we may recall, in 2015 the Agency supported global efforts to fight the outbreak of the Ebola Viral Diseases in West Africa. In order to enhance support to countries affected by the Ebola disease and to better co-ordinate international efforts, the Agency collaborated with the World Health Organizational (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Disease and other international partners.

The South African National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) set up a mobile diagnostic laboratory which tested thousands specimens of those suspected of Ebola infection and provided training to local personnel. This intervention served to strengthen regional capacity for the diagnosis of zoonotic diseases and contributed to the global efforts to fight the pandemic. Apart from this mobile diagnostic laboratory, South Africa also made several other interventions in the fight against Ebola including financial and in-kind contributions. During DG Amano’s visit to South Africa in May this year, the DG also visited the NICD to see first-hand the activities that the Centre undertakes with regard to nuclear derived technologies.

Chairperson,

As indicated in the Report the IAEA continues to provide support to Member States in areas such as food and agriculture and human health. In this regard I am pleased to once more highlight the importance of the project to strengthen the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, otherwise called the VETLAB Network, which was launched in 2012.  Veterinary Laboratories are important in diagnosing animal diseases. Importantly, reducing or curtailing animal diseases has a direct bearing on human health because 70 per cent of human diseases such as: Avian influenza, Ebola, Rabies and Zika virus directly come from animal diseases.

As you may recall, South Africa allocated an amount of 1.5 million US dollars towards Vetlab Project with additional funding from the US and Japan, respectively. 

South Africa is pleased that the VETLAB Network will be commemorating 4 years this year and currently consists of four core laboratories in Botswana, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Cộte d’Ivoire which are now regional reference laboratories performing not only first line diagnoses, but also confirmatory diagnoses for their neighbouring countries. These laboratories are now able, in cooperation with Seibersdorf, to provide training to the region. The VETLAB Network has grown to 39 countries in Africa and 17 countries in Asia.  Similarly, we also note that the VETLAB has conducted more than 20 training courses resulting in about 200 highly trained veterinary testing staff during the course of four years.  My delegation believes that for this VETLAB Network Project to continue and be sustainable, it is important for it to become part of the regular IAEA programme and therefore funding from both the regular budget and extra budgetary funding is needed. Currently this project is funded from the funds made available by South Africa, USA and Japan, respectively.

Chairperson,

My delegation is pleased to note that following a four-year eradication programme using conventional insect management techniques together with the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the tsetse fly has been largely eliminated from two major areas in the Niayes region of Senegal. The TC Report highlights that the impact of the project can be seen with the drastic decrease in the prevalence of the disease trypanosomosis and that this will significantly improve food security and contribute to socio - economic progress in the Niayes region.

The Sterile Insect Technique is equally being used to combat the tsetse flies in South Africa. During his visit to South Africa last month, Director-General Amano highlighted that the Agency is working in close collaboration with South African experts to establish a sustainable tsetse free zone in KwaZulu-Natal.

Similarly, the report mentions that the Post-Graduate Education Courses (PGEC) training was delivered to 40 professionals from national regulatory authorities and bodies in Africa in 2015. This contributed to increasing the number of qualified radiation protection officers in Africa.

The South African delegation notes with appreciation that the Agency has been working to improve the availability and accessibility of master’s level courses for nuclear sector managers through the establishment of the International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA). In this regard, we note that the Agency carried out four support missions in 2015 to build capacity and expertise in the area of nuclear education. Of importance to note is that two of these missions were in South Africa, involving the North-West University and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. We encourage the Agency to continue to intensify its efforts in close cooperation with Member States.

Upon request, South Africa always stands ready to share its experience and expertise in the nuclear field in the African continent and beyond. In 2015 South Africa provided training to oncologists from the African continent as part of building capacity to deal with cancer.

Chairperson,

The African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, and Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) continues to be an important framework for promoting technical cooperation among developing countries in Africa and for enhancing regional cooperation among its 39 State Parties. South Africa welcomes the new extension of the agreement which entered into force on 4 April 2015.

My delegation further notes that in 2015, AFRA State Parties contributed a total of €289 211 to the AFRA Fund, 60 per cent of which came from South Africa. This not only demonstrates the AFRA States Parties continued commitment to the Fund, but also their willingness to further enhance regional ownership of the programme. The contributions have been allocated to AFRA projects to support the implementation of unfunded footnote a/- projects in the African region.

Chairperson

My delegation recalls that Member States share a common responsibility towards financing and enhancing the TC activities of the Agency and stresses that the Agency’s resources for TC activities should be Sufficient, Assured and Predictable. In this regard, my delegation urges Members States to pay their assessed contributions to the TCF in full and on time.

In conclusion, Chairperson, South Africa would like to re-iterate its principled position that there should be a balance between promotional and non-promotional activities of the Agency with regard to the distribution of financial resources of the Agency’s regular budget. In this regard, my delegation looks forward to a constructive engagement with other Member State next year when we negotiate the Agency’s biennial budget for the 2018/ 2019.

With these remarks, my delegation takes notes of the Technical Cooperation Report for 2015 as contained in document GOV/2016/20.

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