(AGI) - Cape Town, Oct 3 - South Africa's ambassador to Vienna Tebogo Seokolo was today elected to serve as chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board, South Africa's Department of International Relation and Cooperation said. The Vienna-based IAEA was established in 1957, with South Africa as one of its founders. It currently comprises 171 member states. The agency promotes the safe and secure use of nuclear science and technology for peace and development. It has, over the years, played an important role in supporting interested member states, based on their respective needs and priorities, to use nuclear energy to generate electricity. In Africa, the IAEA is involved in assisting affected countries, including South Africa, to use nuclear techniques to eradicate mosquitoes and tsetse flies in order to control their associated diseases, like malaria and trypanosomiasis. The IAEA also uses nuclear techniques to detect and treat animal diseases, which also impact on human health. It is understood that 70% of human diseases directly emanate from animal diseases. Said Seokolo: "Our election as chair of the board comes at a critical moment in our country, the African Continent and the world in general. This year marks the 25th anniversary of South Africa's accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the signing and the entry into force of our Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. "It also marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which created an African nuclear weapon-free zone, as a means towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free world. Next year, in 2017 we will also join in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear weapon-free zone - the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Latin America and the Carribean." South Africa is highly regarded by IAEA member states due to the development of its peaceful nuclear programme. Through it power plant in Koeberg, Cape Town, the country generates 5% of nuclear energy to its overall electricity supply. South Africa also plans to introduce 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy to its energy mix in the next decade. South Africa's International Relation and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said of Seokolo's election. "This election is an affirmation of South Africa's leadership role on the world-stage in general and specifically on matters of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy." Seokolo will serve as IAEA chair for the period October 2016 to October 2017. The last time South Africa chaired the IAEA Board was in 1959. (AGI) .