April 27, 2016
On April 18-22, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the African Center for Science and International Security (AFRICSIS) conducted their first joint capacity-building workshop on nuclear security in Africa. The workshop was hosted by AFRICSIS, an independent, science-based non-profit organization established by Hubert Foy, an alumnus of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MAIPS’10), in partnership with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.
The workshop, which took place in Accra, Ghana, brought together twenty-five representatives from nuclear regulatory authorities, atomic energy commissions, research and academic institutions, and foreign and defense ministries from twelve African states. Participating states included Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Tunisia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The workshop sought to provide participants with a solid understanding of nuclear security challenges, and the tools and mechanisms needed to develop and implement effective national nuclear security systems. It also served as a forum for experts from various countries to network, engage, and discuss how to address threats of nuclear terrorism and collectively contribute to strengthening nuclear security and nonproliferation in Africa and globally.
In addition to CNS experts (Elena Sokova, Miles Pomper, and Margarita Sevcik), speakers included representatives from the US Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Several experts from African countries also delivered presentations, such as Dr. Iyabo Usman from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Hubert Foy of AFRICSIS in Ghana, Ibrahim Abdulmajeed (former CNS fellow) from the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and Professor Ayo Kuye from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
The workshop agenda covered a wide array of topics ranging from the fundamentals of the nuclear fuel cycle and peaceful uses of nuclear technologies to the various components of nuclear security system, such as physical protection and nuclear security culture; from past nuclear legacies to current threats of nuclear terrorism; from the history of nuclear security summits to the roles of international organizations and mechanisms, such as the IAEA and UN Security Council Resolution 1540, in strengthening nuclear security.
In addition to in-class training sessions, AFRICSIS organized a tour to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, where participants visited a research reactor that is currently being converted from using highly enriched uranium as fuel to low-enriched uranium. In addition, the group visited radioactive waste storage and accelerator facilities.
Workshop sponsors included the Carnegie Corporation of New York, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The US Department of State’s Partnership for Nuclear Security (PNS) funded participants from the PNS partner states of Nigeria and South Africa.