Ghana’s Ambassador to the Republic of Austria, H.E. Philbert Johnson, paid a courtesy call on the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof. Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko in Accra last week to familiarize himself with the activities of the Commission.
His visit comes on the back of the special relationship that the Commission has with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria over the years.
Ambassador Johnson in a brief remark expressed his appreciation to the Commission for sustaining the relationship between Ghana and Austria through its contribution to nuclear science and technology, as well as the administrative and diplomatic support GAEC has given to Ghana’s new Mission in Vienna.
“I have been a career diplomat for over two and half decades, and in all my work, I have not seen such monumental support. I appreciate it and I would want us to continue working in that manner and even more,” he added.
Ambassador Johnson who is Ghana’s first Resident Ambassador to the Republic of Austria, expressed optimism that the rich expertise of the Commission would help preserve and promote the image of Ghana among the comity of nations, adding: “the interest of our citizens is also preserved in our work within the UN in Vienna.”
He urged the Commission to consider the Vienna Mission as one of its own and that he would do everything within his ability to ensure that they work together in the interest of Ghana and its citizens. “And so count me as a brother, friend, and collaborator, I will do whatever it is to ensure that at the end of it all, our people get the best benefits of the work that we do,” he added.
The Ambassador indicated that there were a lot of scientific works the Commission had done and were also doing to help develop the country that was unknown to the public. He, therefore, entreated the Commission to enhance its communication and visibility strategies to promote its brand.
He also urged the Commission to deploy strategies that would drive the interest of more women in the field of nuclear science and pursue a career in it. “Already, through the Director-General’s instrumentality and guidance, a paper has been presented to Cabinet that aims at ensuring that we apply nuclear science in our transformational development agenda. We hope it receives the necessary consideration,” he added.
On his part, the Director-General of GAEC expressed gratitude for the visit and applauded the Government for establishing a Mission at Vienna. This he said would help Ghana benefit a lot in the field of nuclear science and technology, since Vienna is the host of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has one of its cardinal responsibilities as fostering the exchange of scientific and technical information on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Prof. Nyarko explained that as part of an ongoing effort to promote the commission’s brand and its activities, a Commercialization and Communication Directorate has been established. “It was established early part of this year with the approval of the Board and it has been given the mandate to undertake commercialization activities and also come out with good communication strategies to inform and educate the public,” he added.
He further noted that plans were far advanced to amend portions of the Act establishing the Commission to grant its School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) the necessary approvals to award its degrees, rollout many more programmes, and also determine fees that would be competitive for many people to pursue a study in nuclear science.
“We hope that by the end of the year the Act will be amended and then we can proceed with our plans to encourage the IAEA to train more people locally and from the sub-region,” he added.
Prof. Nyarko disclosed that the IAEA was interested in Ghana becoming the center of excellence for the field of nuclear science and technology in the sub-region, and that, already Ghana had been selected as the place for various IAEA activities.
He, however, bemoaned the lack of local financial support for its activities, adding: “the IAEA can only assist to acquire the needed equipment but will not help you to house them.” He, therefore, appealed to Government to support the Commission in that regard.
The Deputy Director-General of the Commission, Prof. Shiloh Osae, delivered a presentation on the activities of the Commission. He touched on the mandate, functions, and some contributions of the Commission to the socio-economic development of the country in the areas of public health and safety, food and nutrition, and water resources, among others.
Prof. Osae also spoke about the medium and long-term plans of the Commission and made mention of Ghana’s plans to integrate nuclear power into the country’s energy mix.
Present at the meeting were the Directors of the various institutes and directorates of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.