NRF-iThemba LABS joins the IAEA's Collaborating Centre Network

NRF-iThemba LABS joins the IAEA’s Collaborating Centre Network

On Tuesday, 09 November, NRF-iThemba LABS officially became an International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Collaborating Centres. This designation was conferred during a virtual signing ceremony with signatories the Deputy Director General for Nuclear Science and Applications at the IAEA, Ms Najat Mokhtar, and the Managing Director of NRF-iThemba LABS, Dr Faïҫal Azaïez.  The event was furthermore attended by representatives from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the National Research Foundation (DSI) and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). South Africa was represented at the signing in Vienna by His Excellence, Mr Rapulane Molekane, the Ambassador – South African Embassy and Permanent Mission in Vienna.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), consists of 173 member-states (as of 07 April 2021) across the world, and has as its motto “Atoms for Peace and Development”. The Agency collaborates with designated Member State Institutions through its Collaborating Centres Network to implement its programmatic activities that focus on research, development and training. There are currently 55 active Collaborating Centres worldwide, 3 of which are located on the African continent; and more specifically in Burkina Faso, Egypt and Morocco.

“We are excited about this recognition of not only our impact on the African continent, but also the role we will be able to play through the partnership with IAEA, to support smaller facilities in countries like Egypt, Ghana, Algeria and Nigeria,” says NRF-iThemba LABS Managing Director, Dr Faïҫal Azaïez. “We are looking forward to claim our rightful role on the African continent as the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) of Africa; or rather the CARN (African Organization for Nuclear Research).”

This sentiment was echoed by Dr Clifford Nxomani, Deputy Chief Executive Officer: National Research Infrastructure Platforms of the NRF, “I would like to thank the IAEA for the recognition and honour bestowed on NRF-iThemba LABS to join the myriad of International and African Scientific Institutions as a Collaborating Centre. I hope that this honour will not only advance the mandate of the IAEA, but that it will also facilitate Science and Technology capacity development in the field of accelerator-based science and technology on the African continent.”

NRF-iThemba LABS, a national research facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF), will be tasked to implement selected programmatic activities in the field of Accelerator-Based Scientific Research and Applications through the designation as a Collaborating Centre. The designation comes at a very opportune time as iThemba LABS prepares to add another particle accelerator to its infrastructure inventory. The new accelerator, which is expected to be fully commissioned towards the end of 2022, will signal the birth of the South African Isotope Facility (SAIF). This development will not only enable the facility to advance its research, training and development agenda, but it will also impact society through the enhanced provision of radiapharmaceuticals.

NRF-iThemba LABS Managing Director, Dr Faïҫal Azaïez
South African delegation at IAEA signing. (l to r)  Dr Rudzani Nemutudi (Deputy Director); Dr Faical Azaiez (MD); and Dr Rudolph Nchodu (Deputy Director)
IAEA virtual signing ceremony at NRF-iThemba LABS
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