VIENNA, Austria, Sept 18 – Kenya has been re-elected to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after 26 years of absence.
This follows strong lobbying by a team led by Higher Education Minister Dr Sally Kosgei and the presence at the 53rd IAEA Congress by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who addressed the congress on Monday and asked member States to consider Kenya’s application to rejoin the board.
The last time Kenya was in the 35-member Agency was in 1983. Also elected to the board was Cameroon as part of the five-strong Africa representation.
The Vice President, who has arrived in Cyprus for a two day visit, after the IAEA meeting in Austria, says Kenya will use its position in the board to forge strong partnerships in its ambition to go nuclear for power generation.
“We continue to have serious power shortages and because of climate change, every indication is that we must move away from dependence on hydro-electric power if we are to become self sufficient. Nuclear energy will be essential for our development in future," he said.
Mr Musyoka said despite the fact that it takes time for a developing country like Kenya to achieve nuclear capability, it was important for the country to begin preparations in line with the objectives of Vision 2030.
Dr Kosgei said she was excited that Kenya was able to join the board and expressed confidence that a lot will be achieved in partnership with the agency.
“Already we have 14 main projects with IAEA, majority of which are in the health, followed by human resources development. It is our intention to expand these projects for the benefit of Kenyans,” she added.
To that end, Dr Kosgei said plans were in place to set up a major cancer treatment facility in Nairobi that will serve both Kenya and the region.
Dr Jotham Mucheni, the Director of Kenyatta National Hospital, who was part of the delegation to Vienna, says there was a looming cancer epidemic in Kenya,
“Incidences of cancer are rising dangerously and already assuming epidemic proportions. We need to ensure early diagnosis in order to save lives. This is way we need to set up more facilities to detect cancer early and that is where the partnership with IEA, comes in,” Dr Muchemi said.
Also in the delegation is the Secretary for the National Council of Sciences Dr Saukat Abdulrazak.