Algiers hosts conference on peaceful use of nuclear energy
By Nazim Fethi for Magharebia in Algiers – 09/01/07
A two-day African conference on nuclear energy's contribution to sustainable development opened in Algiers on Tuesday (January 9th). Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika opened the meeting, which is attended by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei.
"This first African regional conference on the contribution of nuclear energy to peace and sustainable development is taking place in a particularly appropriate context. On the African level, it prepares for the next summit of the African Union, which could be inspired by the deliberations on how to apply science and technology to development," Bouteflika said in his speech.
The conference will include three workshops that focus on nuclear energy and its contribution to peace and sustainable development. Algerian experts and representatives from at least 45 African countries will also discuss non-energy applications in the fields of health care, agriculture, industry and the environment.
According to the organisers, the conference will also tackle Africa's need for electricity generation from nuclear power stations.
Ramtane Lamamra, secretary-general of the Algerian foreign affairs ministry, said in a press conference on Monday that Algeria, in organising this meeting, "wants to play an active part in world scientific diplomacy."
Lamamra added that his country has considerable human and technological potential, along with prospects for developing peaceful nuclear energy applications. He said that the results of the Algiers meeting will be presented at the next summit of African heads of state, which is to take place at the end of January in Addis Ababa. "Africa is entitled to reap the benefits of atomic energy without any constraints or obstacles being put in its way," he said, but within the bounds of the international system and the existing agreements, such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Algeria uses nuclear technology in the fields of health care, agriculture, water resources and industry. It is currently developing a programme with the IAEA to introduce nuclear electricity generation, which is expected to be implemented this year.
Algeria lodged an official application with the IAEA to construct a series of nuclear power stations in 2005, and the international governing body responded favourably to Algeria's request at the end of 2006.
The country currently has two nuclear reactors -- one at Draria and the other at Ain-Oussera -- devoted to scientific use under IAEA control.
In Africa, there are few countries which have nuclear technology. Apart from Algeria and South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Libya, have submitted requests to European suppliers for nuclear power stations to be built.
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