African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) concluded its Fifth Ordinary Session on May 19,2015 at the African Union (AU) Headquarters, in Addis Ababa. The Session started on, 18 May 2015, and was opened by AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smaïl Chergui. In his statement, the Commission underlined the critical role of AFCONE in the implementation of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, in particular the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology for socio-economic development on the continent. He stressed the urgency of fully operationalizing the AFCONE Secretariat and pledged the commitment of the AU Commission to continue to support this process.
The Session marked the beginning of the three-year term, till 2018, of the members of AFCONE who were elected by the 3rd Conference of State parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba, which took place in Addis Ababa, from 29 to 30 May 2014. The following eight out of the twelve Commissioners of AFCONE were in attendance: Mr. Messaoud Baaliouamer of Algeria, Hon George Ochilo Ayacko Mbogo of Kenya, Mr. Tezana Coulibaly of Mali, Mr. Rajcoomar Bikoo of Mauritius, Professor Christian Sina Diatta of Senegal, Advocate Doctor Mashabane of South Africa, Colonel Pidalatan Manzi of Togo, and Dr. Gatsha Mazithulela of Zimbabwe. In accordance with the Treaty provisions, the Session elected Honorable George Ochilo Ayacko Mbogo of Kenya and Dr. Gatsha Mazithulela of Zimbabwe as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of AFCONE, respectively.
The Session discussed the implementation of AFCONE’s programme of work, which revolves around four pillars: monitoring States parties’ compliance with their Treaty obligations; nuclear and radiation safety and security; peaceful applications of nuclear sciences and technology; and partnerships and technical cooperation. The Session further discussed administrative and operational matters and agreed on practical steps to expedite the operationalization of the AFCONE Secretariat. It also provided a platform for consultations with the Africa Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA), currently chaired by the Kingdom of Lesotho.
It should be recalled that AFCONE was established by the Treaty of Pelindaba, which was adopted in April 1996 and entered into force in July 2009. AFCONE is mandated to monitor and support States’ Parties comply with their non-proliferation obligations, as well as promote cooperation in the peaceful, safe and secure applications of nuclear sciences and technology