The Forum is now well established. In all, 36 delegates from 16 Affiliate countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lebanon, Mongolia, Namibia, Peru, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Uzbekistan) were present. Eight IEC Members (Austria, China, France, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and Sweden) attended the Forum.
Also in attendance were the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC) President Claude Koutoua, as well as representatives from the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) and the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO). IEC Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser opened the session. After a warm welcome to all participants, she made some introductions and outlined the proposed agenda.
Rosario Uría from Peru, who will step down as Affiliate Leader at the end of this year, chaired the Forum. She provided delegates with an update on the IEC Affiliate Country Programme since the 2016 GM in Frankfurt, Germany, based on her report to the Standardization Management Board (SMB) and the Conformity Assessment Board (CAB).
Tek Bahadur Chhetri of the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) is the Bhutan NEC Secretary. After a few facts on his country and an outline of BSB’s activities, he focused on the relationship between BSB and the IEC since July 2006, when Bhutan became an IEC Affiliate.
He then introduced the NEC’s stakeholders and explained the choices made in the selection of IEC International Standards adopted as national ones: wires and cables, switches, plugs and sockets, lighting fixtures, appliances, uninterruptible power systems (UPS), control systems and power transformers.
The two-year mentoring partnership between Bhutan and Sweden has been tremendously beneficial. Regular contacts and two workshops organized in the country for the NEC and its stakeholders contributed to a better understanding of consumers’ needs and helped further identify fields in which IEC Standards were required, e.g. hydropower, medical equipment, rural electrification, batteries and energy efficiency. The ultimate goal is to eliminate counterfeit goods – ‘cheap to buy but expensive for society’ – low quality materials and poor wiring that can cause accidents, fires, burns and electric shocks.
In conclusion, Chhetri said that although the country is going in the right direction, it is still facing many challenges and hurdles: lack of understanding the importance of standards at the highest level, funding, conflicts between laws and regulations, lack of coordination between the different sectors.
César Eduardo Díaz Guevara, President of the Ecuador NEC and Executive Director of Servicio Ecuatoriano de Normalización (INEN), presented a case study on the benefits of using IEC International Standards. The company under scrutiny was INATRA SA, a power transformer factory that has been a player in Ecuador’s electricity market for more than 40 years.
In the last five years, the use of standards, including IEC International Standards, has changed the way the company operates and does business. The impact on research and development as well as on production is significant: research and product development costs have been reduced by 75%, the percentage of breakdowns in equipment and supplies by 62,5%, the product failure rate by 73,5%. Staff training time has gone down by 80% because of the standardized product specifications introduced these past five years. And internal communication has been improved.
The overall benefits are multiple: optimization of resources, competence, less overtime, less waste, implementation of monitoring and control records, quality management system in key areas, increased commitment from staff.
The last speaker to take the floor that day was Rojas Manyame who is the Namibia NEC President and the First Vice-President of AFSEC; he is also General Manager for Regulation of the Namibia Electricity Control Board (ECB). Rojas has been appointed by the IEC General Secretary to take over as Affiliate Leader as of 1 January 2018.
In his introduction, Manyame explained how conformity assessment impacts our lives from the moment we wake up until we go to bed at night and even when we are sleeping. Technical regulations, standards and CA together form the pillars that support global trade, enabling efficient market operation and access, ensuring interoperability, providing companies with a competitive edge as well as protecting health, safety and the environment. The benefits of IEC CA Systems for developing countries, in Africa and elsewhere, are many: no need to develop separate systems of certification and access to a much wider range of products.
The promotion of standardization and conformity assessment in Africa takes place at different levels: globally, through Affiliate participation and the Africa Regional Centre (IEC-AFRC); regionally, through AFSEC; and nationally, through membership in both IEC and AFSEC and mirror technical committees of both organizations. Manyame went on to explain the role of AFSEC, which gives a common voice to Africa on standardization and facilitates education on CA. With the exception of North African countries and South Africa, the continent doesn’t have the infrastructure to control the manufacturing or perform the testing of electrical and electronic equipment. The challenges for the coming years include infrastructure and equipment availability, funding mechanisms, government commitment and innovative thinking.
In conclusion, Manyame stressed the fact that standardization and conformity assessment are essential in the developing of a modern infrastructure. All stakeholders need to be onboard and support such a development which will enable a faster access to markets, to new products and new technologies.
At the close of the workshop, all participants paid a warm-hearted tribute to the Executive Secretary of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme, Françoise Rauser, who retires at the end of the year. Rauser joined the Affiliate Country Programme in 2003 and has been instrumental in shaping it, bringing new countries into the fold year after year and assisting them in their development – some have made the leap to IEC membership. Under her leadership, the Affiliate Plus status, the ACAS and mentoring programmes were established. In her 14+ years, Rauser has built a strong community of people sharing the same challenges and ready to tackle them, knowing that they always had a professional and benevolent ear to guide them to success.
Thomas Robertson, who joined the Programme in 2013, will take over as Executive Secretary of IEC Affiliate Country Programme and International Liaison for developing countries as of 1 January 2018. Sei-Yun Park will replace Robertson as Affiliate Country Project Coordinator.
As already mentioned, Rosario Uría will step down as Affiliate Leader at the end of the year and Rojas Manyame will take over.
All presentations are available on the Affiliate Country Programme section of the IEC website.