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Background and Justification

Lessons drawn from past experience show that centres of excellence such as the Regional Designated Centres (RDCs) in the case of AFRA can play a useful and cost-effective role by complementing and supporting the activities of national institutions operating in similar fields, thus fostering national and collective self-reliance. Effective regional institutions of this kind can in fact make a unique contribution to the progress of developing countries by helping to spearhead innovative approaches to development problems and by adapting and disseminating new methods for the mobilization of scientific and technical knowledge and skills. Such institutions are particularly well-placed to deal with major development problems of groups of countries in a given area; to promote and exchange knowledge and experience through supporting and strengthening national institutions; to contribute to economic integration efforts and to play a practical role in the context of the promotion of TCDC modality.

RDCs in a particular field of competence can also make possible the direct provision of services, otherwise too costly or difficult to obtain, such as specialized training of small numbers of highly qualified specialists or instructors needed at the national level, or the provision of consultancy services; they can also facilitate exchanges of experiences and information through networks of national and sub-regional services operating in the same substantive field.

In order to fulfil these functions, the institutions must not only be adequately resourced with funds, staff and equipment, but must also be properly structured.  In the latter case, the major pre-requisite for their effective functioning is that they are identified, selected and appointed on the basis of a clear, specific agreement among the participating governments, as a reflection of their willingness to pursue common goals.

Other important conditions required for these RDCs include an appropriate legal framework; qualified, independent management in full control of the institution’s resources and an agreed, clearly-specified programme of activities reflecting the policies and objectives set out by the participating countries. The host countries of RDCs naturally play an especially important role in providing a domicile and focus of operation for the institutions. The contributions of other participating countries towards the costs of services are also a critical feature.

Definition of Regional Designated Centres, Legal Framework

1          In the context of AFRA, the RDC can be defined as an established African institution able to provide multi-national services on the basis of the AFRA Agreement and for which the IAEA and donor support may be sought within the context of approved programmes;

2          An AFRA RDC should be legally established in the host country by means of a formal instrument which defines its responsibilities as well as the legal status, and the administrative and financial matters.  This legal instrument should also define the responsible body for the maintenance and for the activities of the Centre;

3          The main considerations in defining the legal framework of the AFRA RDC should provide for its management and funding by the host AFRA country. Additional factors to be taken into account will vary from one Centre to another, e.g., objectives, location of headquarters, structure of governing body, etc., but the basic legal conditions should in every case be the same in order to avoid the multiplication of legal frameworks and conditions;

4          For the AFRA beneficiary countries, the RDC is a provider of services in a particular field of expertise under commonly agreed conditions using the AFRA Agreement as the legal framework to govern the provision of these services. This means that all stipulations stated in the AFRA Agreement and in the AFRA Guidelines and Operational Modalities shall apply - in particular, the AFRA and IAEA “Host Arrangements” of AFRA meetings and training events. Similarly, the AFRA arrangement regarding the remunerations of AFRA experts and lecturers remains valid. The management of AFRA RDCs may need to negotiate with the AFRA-PMC and with the Agency additional administrative, financial and legal arrangements in accordance with their internal regulations and imperatives. However, any deviation from the AFRA agreed arrangements should be brought to the attention of the AFRA Member States for final decisions.

5          RDCs have three features for which they are favoured and of which they should take maximum advantage: (1) the compatibility of interest of the participating countries, (2) the scale economy of its activities, and (3) the multiplier effect of its outputs. It should be strongly oriented toward producing a concrete and practical impact, as expeditiously as practical, in high priority areas where the resources of national institutions in the field are incomplete or inadequate, offer widely accepted services; and should exercise recognized leadership in its field of specialization.


Overall Objectives of Regional Designated Centres

The following overall objectives are identified as the major reason for the existence of AFRA RDCs:

  1. to foster TCDC activities within the region;
  2. to enhance regional self-reliance;
  3. to backstop the work of AFRA Specialized Teams in the field (technical backstopping and logistical support);
  4. to provide support services for ad hoc challenges; and
  5. to act as a body of knowledge in the field and to disseminate innovation and improved practices within the region.

Criteria for the Identification of Regional Designated Centres

The criteria applicable to the selection of RDCs are summarized as:

  1. Availability of the necessary infrastructure (laboratory facilities, well-trained and skilled human resources, legal framework, etc.) at the time of application for becoming a RDC;
  2. Availability of references (achievements) in the field of expertise; such as services being rendered satisfactorily at the national and, possibly, regional level;
  3. Availability of logistics, communication facilities as well as capacity to rapidly mobilize teams and resources;
  4. Confirmed reliability in servicing and skills in management;
  5. Financial autonomy or at least solid sources of funding when required; and
  6. Ability of providing leadership for interaction through linkage mechanisms, networking and use of TCDC modality.

These criteria will be applied for the selection of each candidate institution, on the grounds of the information supplied to the relevant evaluating body in the application forms and detailed questionnaires for the field of specialization under consideration.

Administrative Arrangements

1          The administrative arrangements for enabling and operating RDCs at both national and regional levels are the sole responsibility of the centres’ management. The administrative functioning of RDCs is in accordance with their internal procedures and organization is the responsibility of the host country;

2          The AFRA RDC shall appoint an official as the Focal Point who will liaise between the centre, AFRAMemberStates and the Agency and to whom requests for assistance and/or services will be submitted directly or through AFRA-PMC and/or the IAEA. The Focal Point shall coordinate the centre’s interactions with AFRA Member States and the Agency, facilitate communications and ensure that the centre’s outputs and services are timely provided and in the most cost-effective manner. He/she should be a qualified manager with good knowledge of nuclear applications and preferably acquainted with AFRA and the IAEA programmes and procedures;

3          For activities funded directly by AFRA Member States or through the IAEA, Member States may, through the AFRA and/or the IAEA or directly, request information and/or clarification in connection with the relevant administrative arrangements and procedures used for performing the task;

4          Requests for assistance from Regional Designated Centres should be addressed; either directly to the designated Focal Point in the Centre or through the IAEA, in case funding is sought from the IAEA. Where IAEA assistance is sought under an operational AFRA project, the request should be submitted to the IAEA in Vienna at least three months in advance to enable both the IAEA and the AFRA-PMC to review the request and to take the necessary decision.

Financial Arrangements

1          The exact nature of the services involved or goods required as well as the financial terms will be subject in each case to exchange of communications between the Focal Point of the Centre and the Member State or the IAEA in case of possible funding through the AFRA operational projects;

2          If the services to be rendered or goods to be purchased are to be funded directly by the MemberState, the latter will approach the RDC for agreeing on the financial terms of the deal;

3          In case the IAEA accepts to cover the costs of the services or goods to be provided by the RDC, the IAEA rules and procedures which govern the provision of technical assistance shall apply;

4          In both situations mentioned under 2 and 3, the AFRA arrangements for remuneration of experts as well as lecturers in training courses and workshops shall apply. In particular, African experts and lecturers on duty in other African countries for AFRA projects are paid the Daily Subsistence Allowances in the duty station, contingencies and AFRA Token Fee.

Legal Arrangements

1          It is expected that specific legal arrangements shall be worked out between the recognized RDCs and the AFRA-PMC through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which should be concluded within six months after the recognition;

2          In the event that the RDC requires the services of sub-contractors to perform the tasks under a contract with an AFRAMemberState or the IAEA, written approval and/or clearance should be obtained from the recipient country or the IAEA prior to the execution of these tasks. The approval by the MemberState or the IAEA of a sub-contractor shall not relieve the RDC of any of its obligations under the contract. The terms of any sub-contract shall be subject to and in conformity with the provision of this document;

3          The RDC shall not use the name, emblem or official seal of the IAEA or any abbreviation of the name of the IAEA in connection with functions and related activities. The centre shall not present itself as a contractor or that it is associated with the IAEA in any advertisement without the prior written consent of the IAEA.




Arrangements for Recognition of Regional Designated Centres



Any AFRAMemberState that believes that one or more of its institutions are capable of fulfilling the overall and specific objectives of RDCs, is invited to submit their application(s) according to the relevant fields of specialization. The procedure for recognition of an AFRA RDC is briefly elaborated below.


The interested centre should fill both the Application form and the Specific Questionnaire for the field of specialization. Centres should provide sufficient detail in their response so as to enable effective evaluation of their abilities.


Two copies of the completed applications and questionnaires together with any relevant documentation must be submitted to the country National Coordinator of AFRA for clearance. The documentation shall then be forwarded to the IAEA before the specified deadline. The formal authorization certificate regarding legalities of management and accuracy of information transferred shall be attached to these documents.

Technical Assessment

The application forms submitted by various Member States will then be reviewed by the AFRA-PMC and sent for technical assessment of the information provided.


Based on the outcomes of the assessment as reported, the AFRA-PMC will make a pre-selection for different centres and arrange for specialized auditingteams or experts to perform audits on these centres.


A specialized audit team will visit the pre-selected centre and perform audits according to selective criteria based on the responses to the questionnaires. For the auditing of AFRA RDCs, preference shall be given to regional expertise for auditing the preselected centres. However, if deemed appropriate, non-regional experts could be sought. Meanwhile, the Agency staff should not participate in the auditing of the preselected centres to avoid any possible impartiality in the decision-making related to the appointment of RDCs.


Based on the outcome of the audit reports, the AFRA TWGM recommends to the AFRA Meeting of Representatives the formal designation of the qualified Centres as AFRA Regional Designated Centres in the particular fields of specialization.


The appointment of RDCs will be made by at the AFRA Representative Meeting of each year.

Action Plans

Following the appointment of the centre as an AFRA RDC, an action plan will developed and submitted to the AFRA-PMC by the RDC Focal Point.