Ghana on Friday launched the African Centre for Science and International Security (AFRICIS) to ensure nuclear safety and security in Africa.
The Centre, which is a science-based non-profit Organisation, was being hosted by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), which has signed a collaborative agreement to jointly run the activities of the AFRICIS in the country.
Dr Musheibu Mohammed Alfa, Deputy Minister in Charge of Science, Technology and Innovation, said the joint partnership would ensure the promotion of peaceful applications of nuclear energy for national development and strengthen nuclear non-proliferation agreements and nuclear security through research, education and outreach programmes.
He said the Centre, which was the first of its kind to be established in Africa, envisions a safer, more secure and more stable continent, thus obtaining maximum benefits from the dual-use of science and technology in fields including nuclear energy and space systems.
Dr Alfa said Ghana was proud to host a facility such as AFRICIS after being recognised by the international community for its positive credentials in areas such as non-proliferation, transparency in running nuclear activities and programme, political stability, availability of nuclear expects and students in nuclear science.
He said government would contribute by providing all the necessary support to ensure that the goals of the Centre were achieved and thanked the Canadian government and other development partners for their contributions to make the establishment of the Centre a reality.
Dr Alfa noted that by signing on to several international Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) treaties, African nations including Ghana, were contributing to achieving sustainable international peace, security and development.
The Centre, he noted, would address issues such as detecting and dealing with hazardous threats, protecting civilians and non-civilians alike from weapons and dangerous CRBN substances and equipment through education, science and technology.
“Today, with the increasing firepower of ever-more sophisticated criminal and terrorist organizations such as those attempting to smuggle illegal weapons or contraband through the boarder at ports, airports and by land, means that African countries’ law enforcement officers will have also had to adapt to protect themselves and keep its nations out of harm’s way”, he said.
He said AFRICIS was expected to work with governments, institutions and organisations to promote ideas and actions for collaboration that enhances access to space application tools, sustainable development and space safety and security.
He also called for sustained efforts by all stakeholders both in Africa and beyond to expand efforts and devote more resources and attention to the work and activities of the Centre to achieve the success and security needed for Ghanaians, Africans and the global community.
He expressed the hope that the Centre would develop cutting-edge solutions to address major hazardous substance accidents, natural disasters and terrorism risks.
Professor Benjamin Jabez B. Nyarko, Director-General, GAEC, indicated that pursuing a performance-based vision and commitment to become a centre of excellence, GAEC’s opportunities could be expanded, challenges overcome and prospects exploited through collaborations with academia, private institutions, non-governmental organisations and international governmental organisations.
Under the collaboration, the organisations seek to work together in pursuing the highest quality standards in research and training in all subjects related to the development of workforce and promotion of transparent practices in pursuing nuclear power for electricity generation, he said.
He stressed that working with African states, partners, agencies, industry, academia and other scientific organisations, the Centre’s focus would be directed towards providing objective research, policy-oriented technical training, evidence-based analysis and practical policy recommendations that were essential to devising innovative and effective solutions for national and international security issues at the crossroad of applied science and technology.
He commended Mr Hubert Foy, the pioneer Director of the Centre, who was also a Space Scientist and a strategic nuclear weapons expert, for his vision and for being instrumental in the establishment of the Centre in Ghana. GNA