Since the establishment of the Atomic Energy Board and the National Radiation Protection Authority in 2009, the priority initiatives have been to bring about the full operationalisation of the Board’s Secretariat and the Authority. There has been progress with regard to funding and equipping the organisation with the systems and process necessary for its functionality. However some challenges were experienced, particularly with regard to recruitment of staff and the shortcoming of expertise in some technical areas.
The field of radiation protection is diverse in nature and its application is found in almost all major areas of science and technology. Therefore the technical expertise of the Authority calls for an indepth knowledge and expertise in key areas that the Authority regulates. The current expertise includes specialists in various disciplines such as physics, chemistry, radiography, and biology. There is need to broaden this expertise, especially in disciplines applicable to mining.
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The current expertise in radiation protection ranges from one year to twenty years in the field of radiation protection while the qualifications range from basic undergraduate to MSc in radiation protection. While noting the excellent contribution of the staff I am hopeful that we can motivate them to specialise in radiation protection with many more pursuing studies relevant to nuclear and radiation safety at postgraduate level and thus to develop the analytical, research and teaching capabilities in this field of specialisation.
Human resources is highlighted here since this is the key resources that will cause the organisation to improve in all aspects of its mandate such as (i) supporting the Atomic Energy Board to ensure that nuclear technology makes a viable contribution to our national developmental priorities; (ii) ensuring that people and the environment are not unjustifiable exposed to radiation exposure and (iii) ensuring that Namibia contributes meaningfully to the regional and international arena in terms of influencing standards setting and meeting obligations under international agreements.
Our aim is to attain the highest standard of regulatory practices which are compliant with or compatible with international standards and best practices. By assuming and inculcating this vision the Authority is paving the way to become a competent body that is able to respond effectively to the industrialisation effort as articulated in Vision 2030.
With the current support of the management of the Ministry of Health and Social Service, the Minister and members Atomic Energy Board as well as the enthusiasm of my colleagues I am confident that we can go from strength to strength to realise our vision.