Mathematics; a Dream Killer of Aspiring Female Scientists – Ghana’s First Female Nuclear Engineer Opens up

Ghana’s first female Nuclear Engineer Ekua Mensima has blamed Mathematics as being a threat to the dreams of aspiring young female scientists in Ghana.

The 32 year old award winning scientist told GAEC Press in an interview  that, though Mathematics is “an easy to understand” subject  it not been fairly handled in schools with respect to delivery.

Ekua, who is currently with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) at the Nuclear Safety Department, holds a Mater Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Ghana Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Science. (GSNAS)

According to her, students are given an extremely weak foundation in mathematics right from pre-school to senior high school level hence resulting in low interest in science especially among female students.

She expressed worry at the fact that, many are still being discouraged from perusing science with an erroneous perception that mathematics is difficult. This she said tends to drive more females away from becoming scientists.

Presenting her case on other challenges, she mentioned gender inequality as another thought-provoking factor.” “A situation where women are seen as custodians of the kitchen is highly demotivating. Most women are faced with inferiority complex situations and this causes them to drop science for fear of their future. “

“Being the only female students in my class, I was not given a fair treatment by one of my lecturers who thought i don’t belong to the science class and as a result, i mostly cry to express my pain.  She revealed.

Ekua hinted that, perusing science in Ghana’s University is relatively expensive hence depriving most brilliant but needy female students the opportunity to further. She was thankful to her single parent mother who supported her financially and encouraged her when she almost gave up.

Madam Mensima who is currently a mother of two disclosed that, family responsibility also has a way of pushing women away from choosing science. Using her two children as point of reference, she believes that, she could have advanced beyond her current position if not for the necessary breaks.  She acknowledged the support of her husband who has encouraging her to pursue her PHD.

She believes that, women in science play a one hundred and five percent (105%) role than men and must be given the needed push to realize their dreams.  “Women are assets on every field and must be encouraged to pursue science. I am confident that, women in science have a bright future since the number of enrolment in graduates schools have increased. “

She appealed to the Ghana Education Service to invest more into grooming good mathematics teachers who can give students solid foundation in mathematics.

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By: Pricilla Asare

“You Can’t Have All Women In The Kitchen” – Afia Boatemaa

Afia Boatemaa-Nuclear Engineer

Ghana’s second female Nuclear Engineer Afia Boatemaa has called for an affirmative action among female scientist in Ghana.

The 27 year old scientist who graduated with a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Ghana, Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (GSNAS) in 2016 is confident that, women in science can climb the ladder of success if they remain focus.

She expressed worry at the fact that, several avoidable factors have led to the fall out of most aspiring female scientists in various academic institutions across the country.

Afia Boatemaa, who is currently working with the Keshe Foundation, first pursued her undergraduate course, in Chemical Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in the year 2013

“Female Scientists must stand their grounds and rise to defend their vision” She said. According to her, her quest to encourage other female scientists in Ghana to fight for their right came from several literatures she read concerning gender against female in science.

Afia is of the view that, the tradition that requires women to remain in the kitchen must no longer be heeded to.

Brushing off the challenges, Afia Boatemaa stressed on the need to think about solutions to curb the situation rather than trumpeting on the already known problems.

She disclosed that, even though she is yet to encounter any of such situations, she is mentally psyched to face whatever obstacle that is ahead of her.

“We are not in any competition with men; we only need an accommodating, transparent and a tolerable atmosphere to realize our dreams as female scientists.  Ghana has only three female Nuclear Engineers now and we need more.” she cries out.

She advised women not to give inn to any form of humiliation; deceit and frustrations that are meant to kill their dreams but should rather stay focused.  She hinted that, those who are financially constrained can apply for international scholarship programmes to finance their education.

She finally made an appeal to the Government to set up a fund to support financially challenged females who desire to become scientists.

CNS: Review Meeting Identifies Ideas to Improve Nuclear Safety

The Seventh Review Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety was held from 27 March to 7 April 2017 at the IAEA Headquarters, in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Contracting Parties highlighted the importance of sustaining and enhancing a nuclear safety culture, maintaining effective legal frameworks, and enforcing safety precautions within the supply chain following a two-week review of nuclear power plant safety.

Following intensive discussions and reflections on the national reports of nuclear safety programmes from 79 countries, delegates at the Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), identified and offered ideas to ensure achievement of high levels of safety. These included ideas to address financial and human resource constraints, safety concerns related to ageing nuclear facilities, and the need for harmonized cross-border emergency planning approaches.

In their Summary Report released at the close of the 27 March – 7 April meeting, Contracting Parties also encouraged the IAEA to continue developing guidance to help countries strengthen regulatory body oversight and practice safety culture.

“Maintaining nuclear sagety requires long-term commitment and vigilance from countries, as well as effective mechanisms for early detection and assessment of problems and networks for sharing lessons learned,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

Referring to the need to maintain oversight of the supply chain to ensure safety, he said.

“This is a common issue both for countries operating nuclear power plants and those considering nuclear power programmes, because of the lack of availability of identical replacement parts and the need to be able to detect non-conforming, counterfeit, suspect or fraudulent items. Furthermore, with the number of nuclear-grade certified suppliers diminishing, access to manufacturers able to meet nuclear standards will become more challenging.”

Contracting Parties acknowledged the value of the CNS review meetings and other voluntary international peer review processes in encouraging continuous self-assessment and improvement.

“These processes effectively unearth the wealth of experience that countries have on nuclear safety issues, and this is helpful for both countries operating nuclear power plants and those just embarking on nuclear programmes,” said Ramzi Jammal, President of the Review Meeting and Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission “It is important for the IAEA and other organisations to cooperate to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these reviews.”

Obligations under the CNS

The Convention entered into force on 24 October 1996, setting international benchmarks in the areas of nuclear installation siting, design, construction and operation, as well as financial and human resources, safety assessment and verification, quality assurance and emergency preparedness. It requires Contracting Parties to report on their implementation of obligations under the Convention and subject these reports to peer review by other Parties.

In its first decade, CNS Review Meetings focused heavily on specific technical safety issues. In recent years, the focus has shifted to continuous improvement of nuclear safety.

The CNS Contracting Parties hold Review Meetings every three years. The 8th Review Meeting will take place in 2020.

DG’s Welcome Address: Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission – Phase 1

WELCOME ADDRESS BY PROF. B.J.B. NYARKO, DEPUTY GNPPO CHAIRMAN AND DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE GHANA ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, ON THE OPENING CEREMONY OF GHANA’S PHASE 1 INTEGRATED NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE REVIEW (INIR) MISSION; JANUARY 16- JANUARY 23, 2017.

Mr. Chairman

Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, CEO of NDPC

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency

GNPPO Board members

Chief Executive Officers and Institutional Reps.

Directors of Various Institutes

Representatives from the various stakeholder Organisations

Friends from the media

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is a great honor and privilege for me to welcome you to the opening ceremony of Ghana’s phase 1 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission. Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of Ghana and the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation, to extend my warm welcome to the team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and all participants.

The goal of this IAEA coordinated International peer review is to conduct a holistic evaluation of Ghana’s nuclear infrastructure on the basis of 19 Infrastructure issues of NPP development and subsequently provide suggestion and recommendations to fill gaps that may exist.

It is worth noting that Ghana satisfied a preceding requirement of conducting and submitting a self-evaluation report (SER) to the IAEA.

Mr. Chairman, we satisfied this requirement with serious focus on the quality of the Self Evaluation Report and the active involvement of all relevant stakeholder organisations. It is gratifying to note that as a country, we were far advanced with the assessment of our 19 infrastructure issues when we made an official request to the IAEA on 3rd December 2015  to carry out the Phase 1 integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR).

I am very happy to inform you that Ghana had a preliminary INIR mission from August 8 to August 10, 2016 and we are hopeful that the general conclusions and recommendations from the IAEA experts would make this main mission a better one.

The IAEA team of experts will give a briefing on the mission implementation and agenda at the opening session and there would be discussions and interviews between and among IAEA experts and GNPPO stakeholder representatives for each of the nineteen (19) infrastructure issues.

Mr. Chairman, may I assure participants that there would be long sessions that will require total commitment and attention and these will culminate in the exit meeting where results and recommendations would be discussed.

Mr. Chairman, it is a well-known fact that a large number of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, and for those that have access, reliability, sustainability and cost issues have become very compelling. Indeed, almost every problem facing a developing nation is also an energy access problem: agriculture, health, education, lack of productive industries for economic growth among others.

Ghana’s growing energy demand, worsened by rapid population growth, industrialization and major infrastructural development, requires a comprehensive assessment of our energy infrastructure, available energy sources and how they could be exploited in the short, medium and long-term.

Our quest to find a lasting solution to our energy problems has brought into perspective nuclear energy and our first President’s vision on energy. Our focus on the United Nation’s sustainable development goal seven (7) which emphasises access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and indeed the effect sustainable energy would have on the other goals cannot be gainsaid.

The revitalization of our first President’s vision of exploiting nuclear energy for electricity generation started with the setting up of a Presidential Committee in 2007 known as the Adjei Bekoe Committee, which was tasked to advice government on the potential use of nuclear energy for electricity generation in Ghana.

Mr. Chairman, the compelling and instructive conclusions of the Committee’s report, which led to Cabinet’s decision in 2008 to include nuclear energy into Ghana’s energy mix, are:

  1. A decision by the country to explore nuclear energy for electricity generation would be natural progression in the country’s technological advancement;
  2. The introduction of nuclear power in Ghana’s fuel supply mix will improve our energy security and would be vital in sustaining the energy requirements of a middle income economy.

The Committee also recommended the setting up of a Presidential Commission on Nuclear Power Development (PCNPD) to prepare a draft Nuclear Power Policy and terms of reference for the additional technical and financial feasibility studies; the establishment of a legal framework and regulatory body; accedence to international agreements relating to non-proliferation, physical protection, nuclear safety and security as well as civil liability regime.

Mr. Chairman, it is gratifying to note that the government of Ghana subsequently set up Ghana’s NEPIO, Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation. The government passed a comprehensive nuclear law, NRA Act, 2015 (Act 895) which preceded the establishment of an independent regulatory authority. Ghana, with the help of GNPPO’s legal stakeholder institutions and with the support of the IAEA, has acceded to a lot of international conventions and instruments in connection with non-proliferation, physical protection, nuclear safety, and security.

We know as a nation we can, and must pursue all the possible energy sources that are affordable, sustainable and reliable, while paying attention to carbon emissions and climate change concerns.

We are aware of the tremendous effort required, and the large investment costs and human capacity building but we are encouraged by the vision of our first President, the commitment of our governments and the enthusiasm and industry of our NEPIO, the jobs we will create, the foreign investment we will send to rural areas and the contribution we will make to reducing climate change. I dare say we simply cannot disappoint with the second opportunity to add Nuclear energy to our energy mix, after the efforts of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah our first President.

It is important to state our commitment to safety, security and safeguards requirements and for which reason the IAEA’S methodology of covering 19 key infrastructure issues, in 3 phases and with 3 milestones, is critical to us.

Mr. Chairman let me refer to a quote from Jessie Owens: “We all have dreams but in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” It is the industry and tiring efforts of the GNPPO and NPI that has brought as this far. We acknowledge every member of the GNPPO for their individual and collective efforts that have made this dream a reality. Vince Lombardi, a former American footballer said “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”. This quote has indeed found a practical meaning.

Mr. Chairman, when people have worked so hard, it is difficult to find words to encourage them to do more but I have found one; perseverance!!!             That is what will take us to the finishing line and what posterity will cherish.

Before I conclude, may I express our appreciation to the IAEA and their experts for their support and to encourage Ghana’s NEPIO to continue with the good work.  Much appreciations to our sponsors: the Volta River Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Tropical Cable and Conductor Ltd, Asanko Gold Gh. Ltd Project, Berock Ventures Ltd, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Engineering Services Providers Co. Ltd and Cornerstone Capital Advisors Ltd.

Finally, on behalf of Ghana and the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organization, I welcome you all to Ghana’s first Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission. I wish you all fruitful discussions and look forward to having outcomes that will help propel us into the next phase of the programme.

Thank you for your attention.

Ghana signs its third Country Programme Framework (CPF) for 2017 – 2021

signing2Dr. Kwaku Aning, Governor of Ghana, IAEA Board of Governors and Mr Dazhu Yang, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, have signed the Ghana Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the period of 2017 – 2021 on 28 September 2016.

A CPF is the frame of reference for the medium-term planning of technical cooperation between a Member State and the IAEA and identifies priority areas where the transfer of nuclear technology and technical cooperation resources will be directed to support national development goals.

Ghana has been an IAEA Member State since 1960. Its 2017 – 2021 CPF identifies 8 priority areas:

1. Food and agriculture
2. Human health and nutrition
3. Water resources and environment
4. Energy and nuclear power development
5. Human resource development and education
6. Industrial applications
7. Nuclear and radiation safety and nuclear security
8. Radioactive safety and waste managementgroup