Experts in nuclear technology from different parts of Anglophone Africa have gathered in Kigali for a five-day training that will improve their knowledge of how transport of radioactive materials is regulated.
The forum, which opened on Monday, was organised by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The training brought together about 25 participants from 14 African Anglophone countries including Rwanda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Participants will essentially learn about the requirements for the transport of radioactive materials under IAEA regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials (IAEA Transport Regulations) and on responsibilities of competent authorities in ensuring compliance with the requirements.
Radioactive materials, which are any objects that can ignite radiation waves used for technology in different areas from medicine and security to manufacturing and agriculture, can be harmful if poorly handled.
Among other topics, the content for the training in Kigali include responsibilities for compliance with transport regulations for radioactive materials among competent regulatory authorities in different countries, dealers in the materials, as well as transporters.
Participants will also learn about standards for packaging and labelling radioactive materials as well as steps for inspecting their proper transportation.
Jean de Dieu Tuyisenge, Director of Radiation Safety Regulation at RURA, said that Rwanda needs to be well equipped in order to properly control the movement of radioactive materials in the country.
"It's very important for Rwanda to have regulations, knowledge, and the capacity to regulate transport of radioactive materials to ensure that they are handled properly to remain harmless for human life," he said.
The official said that the training will help officials at RURA to increase their knowledge in ensuring the control of radioactive materials that Rwanda can import or that can cross into the country on their way to other countries.
"It's important that we have the knowledge and ability to control what enters Rwanda," he said.
He indicated that, if not well handled, waves from radioactive materials can affect human life, causing different diseases such as cancer.
The Energy Division Manager at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Robert Nyamvumba, indicated that Rwanda is increasingly using radioactive equipment in different areas and that knowledge of how to handle them is crucial.
"It's an important meeting that will help us safeguard radioactive materials to ensure that they won't cause any harm as a result of misuse," he said.
As for Eric Reber, a transport safety specialist at the IAEA, he said that there are international standards for transporting radioactive materials from one country to another and from one facility to another.
"Internationally, we have established safety standards for the transportation of radioactive materials and what this training will help empower people with skills on how to apply these safety standards in a regulatory environment," he said.
He said that about every six years the transport regulations for radioactive materials are often modified, which means that experts in different countries need training in order to improve their knowledge.
Rwanda plans to set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST) within the next five years, which makes the on-going training on transportation of radioactive materials particularly important for Rwandan experts.