Highly-enriched uranium sent to China from Ghana

Highly-enriched uranium has been flown from Ghana back to China in the removal of all such material from the country.

The Ghanaian research reactor has instead been converted to use low-enriched fuel.

According to world-nuclear-news.org, the material came from the GHARR-1 Miniature Neutron Source Reactor at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s (GAEC’s) National Research Centre Institute in Accra.

The fuel was enriched to 90% uranium-235, which means it could potentially have been diverted to a weapons program, although it only amounted to 1 kg.

The conversion of the unit with the help of its Chinese designers and the removal of the material nevertheless eliminates this possibility. Similar reactors exist in Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, as well as China.

Pictures released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show a large transport cask being loaded onto an aircraft in Ghana and unloaded in China.

The operation was conducted by the GAEC and the China Institute of Atomic Energy with support from the IAEA and the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The US bodies have so far helped repatriate some 6275 kg of HEU from 33 territories.

GHARR-1 is the first such unit outside of China to be converted to LEU. “With this pioneer engagement, Ghana demonstrated the feasibility of the conversion of these reactors outside of China,” said Kwame Aboh, project manager at GAEC. NNSA has said it is cooperating with Nigeria to complete a similar project there.

Chinese-designed MNSRs

MNSR type research reactors were designed and manufactured by the China Institute of Atomic Energy, and the original design had a compact core with 30 kW thermal powers, containing about 1 kg of 90% enriched HEU.

Nine Chinese-designed MNSR facilities exist: four in China – one of which has been converted to LEU fuel – and one each in Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. They are used primarily for education and training purposes.

Upon the commitment of the Chinese Government, the China Atomic Energy Authority undertook the responsibility of MNSR conversion first for the prototype MNSR in China, and then worked with GAEC to complete the conversion of GHARR-1 and take back the HEU.

IAEA assistance

The IAEA’s cooperation with the MNSR community began in 2006 with a coordinated research project to determine the technical feasibility of converting them to LEU fuel.

Upon request from Ghana in 2014 for assistance in securing a LEU core for the country’s GHARR-1 facility, the IAEA’s Research Reactor Section provided support for the conversion and removal, carried out review missions at the GHARR-1 research reactor focusing on safety, offered regulator training on cask licencing and held workshops on transport security.

Nigeria and Syria have also requested IAEA assistance for conversion and HEU core removal. The Nigerian project is scheduled to be accomplished in 2018.

In Beijing, where the HEU fuel has just arrived, Mary-Alice Hayward, IAEA Deputy Director General, head of the Management Department, represented the Agency at HEU return event that the Chinese authorities organised today. She stated that “The IAEA was pleased to support our Member States with the conversion of Ghana’s MNSR and the return of its HEU fuel to China. This project represents a significant milestone in the broader endeavour to minimize the use of HEU in civilian facilities while ensuring continued access to nuclear research and training capabilities.”

Source: Ghana | Graphiconline


Ghana successfully launched its first satellite into space

GhanaSat-1, which was developed by students at All Nations University in Koforidua, was sent into orbit from the International Space Centre.

Cheers erupted as 400 people, including the engineers, gathered in the southern Ghanaian city to watch live pictures of the launch. The first signal was received shortly afterwards.

It is the culmination of a two-year project, costing $50,000 (£40,000).

It received support from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The satellite will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastline for mapping purposes, and to build capacity in space science and technology.

Project coordinator, Dr Richard Damoah said it marked a new beginning for the country.

“It has opened the door for us to do a lot of activities from space,” he told the BBC.

He said it would “also help us train the upcoming generation on how to apply satellites in different activities around our region.

“For instance, [monitoring] illegal mining is one of the things we are looking to accomplish.”

Source: BBC

African scientists meet in Accra at DELTAS17 to exchange information

Established and emerging African health research leaders, policymakers, representatives of partners and funders, and other African and international guests from various countries met in Accra this week for an exchange of information on research being done by African scientists.

Organised under the theme, “Showcasing the best so far,” by the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa, the meeting brought together about 170 present grantees together with funders and other stakeholders to build a stronger DELTAS Africa community.

The DELTAS Africa programme, is a scheme initiated by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and other partners, to support African-led development of world class researchers and researcher leaders.

It is a long-term programme, over an initial period of five years (2015-2020), with the aim to support collaborative teams to conduct health research, offer training fellowships and mentorship, and invest in research infrastructure.


A group photograph of some of the delegates at the meeting.

Funded programmes

DELTAS Africa funded programmes are currently in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The meeting in Accra, which was the second annual meeting presented an opportunity to highlight some ground-breaking research being done by African scientists to address the continent’s health and developmental challenges.

Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana gave an opening key note address which touched on his “Life Journey from Cardiovascular Miracles to Political Leadership.”


Later in an interview with journalists, Prof Frimpong-Boateng lauded moves aimed at increasing funding for research and development to one percent of GDP by the Ghana government.

According to him, the move by the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government which was in line with what the African Union (AU) has proposed is very laudable and would enable the country to make a headway in science and development.

“So far the amount of money dedicated to research and development is just about 0.025 percent of GDP,” he said.

“But our president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised to increase it to one percent in accordance with what AU says. And I think we will not even stop there, in future when we get some more money we will increase it.”

He noted that the poverty gap was the technology gap, “we cannot sit here and not do things for ourselves.

“If 100 percent of our development budget is from outside sources, 80 percent of inputs into agriculture, education and health is from outside, then we can’t survive as a nation, it is not sustainable, so we need to work hard, generate wealth, stop the corruption and change our attitude and thinking that it will only take Ghanaians to build this nation, on the other hand, it will take Ghanaians to destroy our nation,” Prof Frimpong Boateng noted.

Explaining, he said, “first of all we have to create wealth, generate wealth, and we can do that when we work hard and we should minimise corruption. The money that goes into the corruption industry in Africa is too much, ranging from 20 percent to 75 percent. I don’t know the percentage in Ghana.

A special lecture from Nobel Laurate and molecular biologist, Peter Agre was expected to be delivered at the meeting.

Message from AESA
Welcome to the 2nd Annual Meeting of DELTAS Africa.

DELTAS Africa research teams – students, fellows, technicians, administrators and principal investigators – represent the best talent pool of scientists from across the continent working in research for health and related inter- and trans-disciplinary areas. This is reflected in the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting – ‘DELTAS Africa, showcasing the best so far’.

AAS/AESA in partnership with the University of Ghana are proud to gather together more than 170 guests who include established and emerging African health research leaders, policymakers, representatives of our partners and funders, and our African and international guests. We are all keen to engage in productive conversations over five days, on how science can enable Africa to meet its health and developmental challenges.

The First DELTAS Africa Annual Meeting was held in July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. It provided a critical opportunity to network and advance the implementation of these ambitious programmes, managed by AESA and funded at a level of $100M by the Wellcome Trust and DFID.

At that inaugural meeting, the foundation was laid for a fundamental framework for DELTAS Africa premised on the DELTAS Africa Theory of Change and four strategic focus areas i.e. achieving world class outputs in terms of scientific quality; training the next generation of scientific leaders; linking research to policy and practice through scientific citizenship; and building robust and vibrant research environments.

These key areas are underpinned by strong governance structures including leadership provided by the 11 DELTAS Africa programme directors; a well thought out M&E framework; and grant terms conditions and management policies overseen by the AAS/AESA team; and strategic support from the Wellcome Trust teams.

As we will witness from the presentations and discussions at this meeting these approaches are yielding the desired results. The inaugural meeting in Nairobi was mostly about setting the foundation for DELTAS Africa and was dominated by discussions on the governance structures. This meeting in Accra will be the first opportunity for a cohort of newly recruited scientists, fellows and trainees to showcase the scientific work that is now being undertaken across the 11 consortia.

While DELTAS Africa is anchored on the AESA mission of supporting people, their places of work and their programmes of research and innovation, capacity building is not an end in itself.
The ultimate goal for DELTAS Africa and other AESA programmes is to produce data and evidence that leads to products, policies and clinical practices that engender better lives and livelihoods in Africa.

In this beautiful setting of Accra, we can collectively review progress and shape the next set of key activities through our strong networks, collaborations, resource sharing, and all the elements that make up the DELTAS Africa community of research practice. In doing so, questions such as ‘how do we translate our joint experience into increasing our effectiveness and efficiency in implementing our respective DELTAS Africa agendas?’ are paramount.

The science of DELTAS Africa is ultimately for the benefit of society, so this is an opportunity to discuss innovative approaches to research management, scientific communication and publishing, learning and evaluation, and how we accelerate public, policy and community engagement.

We extend a warm welcome to all participants and eminent guests joining us from around the world. Your participation is a strong message that you believe in the future of science in Africa and it is an inspiration and encouragement especially to young Deltoids that indeed they can look forward to living, working and scientifically thriving in Africa.

Tom Kariuki, Interim Executive Director, AAS, & AESA Director
Alphonsus Neba, Programme Manager, DELTAS Africa AAS/AESA
Gordon Awandare, Director, WACCBIP University of Ghana

Message from the AESA Partners Group

Dear Deltoids,
It is a privilege to have followed the development of the DELTAS Africa concept, to see it approved and funded, the consortia selected, DELTAS Africa handed over to AESA, the Fellows recruited and to know that you, the living, breathing community of Deltoids are gathering in Accra to energise yourselves as a powerful force for African-led research.

The richness of the Accra programme is testament to the depth of rigour and intellectual leadership that AESA has brought to leading this programme.

Tom Kariuki’s team is here in force with an agenda that will test and enrich all of us and strengthen the collaborative bonds between fellows, consortia and friends of DELTAS.
The long-term success of the DELTAS programme, and re-funding depends on you. So I am going to give you three nudges!

One: The programme is underpinned by the fellows at Masters, PhD and Post-doctoral levels. It is your research output and for progress that ultimately will determine if Wellcome and DFID’s investment has advanced research and training on the African continent. Take advantage of all the help you can get from AESA and your mentors and be impatient for success.

Two: We want to see you establish research environments that evolve into the critical mass and physical infrastructure that will attract and retain more researchers like yourselves. And we need you to be out there, using your data, your skills and intellect to influence policymakers and engage the public, changing health practice and increasing the numbers of people who “get” science.

These areas were neglected in the recent DELTAS Africa reports and this is a big nudge and could be a big gap in your output midterm reviews next year.

Simon Kay
Chair, AESA Partners Group &
Head of International Programmes and Partnerships
Wellcome Trust

Source: Ghana | Graphiconline

China breaks ground on world’s first ‘forest city’

‍Work has started on an ambitious project in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to create the world’s first “forest city” in Liuzhou.

The project, commissioned by the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning department, is the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri, best known for Milan’s Bosco Verticale garden towers.

Architect Stefano Boeri outside the famous Bosco Veritcale in Milan. /VCG Photo

Liuzhou Forest City will cover 1.75 square kilometers and will ultimately be home to around 30,000 people.

It will include 40,000 trees and almost 1 million plants, which will help absorb 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of pollutants every year, according to the project’s website.

Around 100 different plant species are also expected to provide a better environment for the region’s indigenous animal and insect life.

The city will be powered entirely by green energy and will also include recreational spaces, schools and a hospital. It will be linked to Liuzhou city by a high-speed electric railway.

Liuozhou Forest City will ultimately be home to 30,000 people. /Stefano Boeri Architetti

“For the first time in China and in the world, an innovative urban settlement will combine the challenge for energy self-sufficiency and for the use of renewable energy with the challenge to increase biodiversity and to effectively reduce air pollution in urban areas,” said Stefano Boeri. “(This) is really critical for present-day China.”

Boeri’s firm also has other green ideas for China including a vertical forest for the eastern city of Nanjing and even more ambitious plans to transform the smoggy northern capital of Hebei province Shijiazhuang into a forest city.

Construction on the Liuzhou Forest City is expected to be completed by 2020.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its reliance on coal-fired plants has contributed to its pollution problem, with images of smoggy cities regularly making headlines.

Now however, China is stepping up the fight against pollution. The National Energy Administration says the country will invest 2.5 trillion yuan (370 billion US dollars) in renewable energy by 2020 and boost the use of non-fossil fuels so that they account for 20 percent of energy consumption by 2030.

Source: CGTN Global