Nairobi forum drafts key steps in the quest for safe usage of nuclear

The week-long forum also called for massive investments in technology and acquisition of knowledge critical to effective cross-border regulation.

Country representatives came up with action plans, which include reviewing internal controls and enacting legislation that would support safety and security of radioactive sources, including disused ones.

The meeting also discussed ways of improving patients' protection from radiation sources, tightening authorisation and inspection, enforcement for safety and security of radiation sources, and proper monitoring of import and export of radiation sources.

Key challenges highlighted by the regulators include political interference in decision making, and financial constraints. They said in most countries, the number of technical staff in regulatory agencies were not commensurate with the nature of work and number of facilities.

Countries taking part in the talks include Libya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia, Benin and Cameroon. Kenya vowed to honour the code and to sustain collaborations.

"We have done well in adhering to the code and we are working on the political commitment," said Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA) director for Partnerships and Public Awareness Edward Mayaka.

"So far so good. We are working on our political commitment to the IAEA code and hope to deposit necessary legal documents by December this year," said Melody Mwema of Zambia's Radiation Protection Authority.

For Zimbabwe, the meeting heard that an amendment Bill was before Parliament and would, if passed, tighten regulatory controls and ensure efficient waste management.

"What we need now is to tighten stakeholder engagement as we move forward, said Ms Wongai Mavurayi, who represented the Harare-based Radiation Protection Agency.

IAEA expert Olga Makarovska called on countries to enhance technical cooperation among themselves. "We expect that you will actively exchange ideas in a manner that helps build competence among the regulators," she said.

The IAEA code's provisions relating to the security of radioactive sources were strengthened in light of the events of the September 11 terrorism attack in the US. Some of its provisions relate to import and export controls on radioactive and nuclear.

"We will move with speed and ensure speedy harmonisation of all relevant policies and laws. We are all here to protect lives and property in the job we are doing," Mr Mayaka said in his closing remarks on behalf of KNRA Director General James Keter, who on Monday implored nations to work together towards protection of lives and property.