26 March 2014
South Africa has officially opened a new training centre, the first of its kind in Africa, that will lift the country’s nuclear protection status while promoting increased application of radiation technology in industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and the medical field.
Speaking at the official opening of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation’s Radiation Protection Training Centre at Pelindaba in North West province on Tuesday, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies encouraged South African companies to make use of nuclear technology in order to stay competitive.
“I think that it’s not widely appreciated at how broadly the application of radiation technology is in manufacturing, in many agricultural companies, and in the medical technology field.”
However, Davies said, harnessing nuclear and radiation technologies depended on the ability to be able to operate these technologies safely. “We are bound by international conventions, for example, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, that requires adequate standards of safety, and these are also required by our national legislation.”
The centre’s acting CEO, Xolisa Mabhongo, said the facility would “catapult South Africa’s nuclear protection status to new levels”, adding that it was the first of its kind in Africa, and had been internationally benchmarked with nuclear training centres around the world.
“The potential of this training centre is enormous, and we are certain that it will create many new opportunities, not only for Necsa but South Africa and Africa as a whole by introducing more people to this industry and introducing even more skilled personnel into the sector,” Mabhongo said.
The Department of Trade and Industry contributed R3-million for the purchase of laboratory equipment for training Radiation Protection Officers (RPOs) for the nuclear and non-nuclear industry. The centre, which began operating in March 2013, has already trained 100 RPOs.
Courses are offered at three levels, namely radiation protection monitoring (NQF level 3), radiation protection (NQF level 4), and radiation protection (NQF level 5).
The centre also offers university courses from honours to PhD degree level, and currently has students from the University of Johannesburg, Venda University and North West University.