Experts call for protection of East and Central Africa from security risks

James Keter

KNRA Director General James Keter meets a team from the European Union Commission and other agencies in Nairobi on Friday.   

Photo credit: Pool

A multi-agency meeting in Nairobi has urged stakeholders in Eastern and Central Africa to work closely in countering security risks, including threats of terrorism and organised crimes.

This came amid efforts to further strengthen the European Union-funded Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (EU-CBRN) Centers of Excellence in the region.

European Union Commission representatives held talks with officials of the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA) and highlighted areas of cooperation in risk mitigation extending to global and regional maritime and cyber spaces among others.

The regulator hosts the EU-CBRN Regional Secretariat for the Eastern and Central African Centres of Excellence Initiative, comprising 12 member states.

KNRA Director General James Keter stressed the need to make the facility the regional centre for nuclear security and radiation safety. Mr Keter is its Head of Secretariat.

“We are proud of the ongoing bold plans, and together, we can make the region safer,” Mr Keter told the meeting held at the authority’s Central Radioactive Waste Management facility in Oloolua, Kajiado County at the weekend.

The talks touched on recent activities, projects, upcoming events and plans. A total of 18 projects have been implemented in the region of which two are ongoing towards strengthening biosafety and biosecurity capabilities in the region.

The EU-CBRN Centre of Excellence has three African regional secretariats with 28 partner countries. The North Africa and Sahel Regional secretariat is based in Algeria, African Atlantic

Façade Regional Secretariat is in Morocco while the Eastern and Central Africa Regional Secretariat is in Kenya.

Part of the centres’ regional priorities are on the safe transport and management of chemicals, enhancing legislative Framework, illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials, food safety and security.

The Friday meeting was attended by Ms Maria Rosa Sabbatelli, Head of Unit, European Commission for Foreign Policy Instrument, Mr Harro Wittermans, the Regional Coordinator for

Eastern and Central Africa CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance Programme and Mr Reychad Abdoul of Medisafe.

Mr Wittermans said organizations such as the African Commission on Nuclear Energy had expressed an interest in partnering with the region in boosting security during a side event at the just-concluded African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

Ms Sabbatelli, at the same time, lauded Kenya for joining the International Science and Technology Center and assured the country of the EU support for its bid to join the International Science and Technology Center.

“Kenya is seen as a leader in the region and by joining it will help boost other countries in the regional secretariat,” she said. Present at the talks were officials from the EU Delegation, the Government Chemist, State Department of Education and Higher Research, UNOPS and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.