Located in the southern part of Africa, Namibia has participated in the IEC Affiliate Programme since 2001. Since 2010, Namibia further extended its participation in the programme by setting up a National Electotechnical Committee (NEC) and acquiring Affiliate Plus status. With this status, Namibia now has access to up to 400 IEC Standards and can benefit from the mentoring programme.
Namibia has now adopted 59 IEC International Standards and participates in the work of 14 IEC technical committees and subcommittees
Rojas Manyame has been President of the NEC from Namibia since April 2013. e-tech recently spoke with Rojas to learn more about the experience of his country in the IEC Affiliate Programme.
What are the biggest benefits for Namibia in participating in this programme?
Participation in this programme has helped Namibia through the adoption of standards, through our participation in influencing the standardization process and through the Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status (ACAS) which allows us to participate in the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.
In terms of our operations, these standards assist quite a lot. I have first-hand experience in terms of our regulatory environment and we have incorporated most of the IEC Standards. IEC has definitely gone a long way to assist us.
Can you mention any specific TCs where your country is active?
We have a number of mirror committees with IEC technical committees. Because the access to electricity is quite a challenge in Namibia, TC 82: Solar photovoltaic energy systems, is a committee that can help us. We also do quite a lot with TC 61: Safety of household and similar electrical appliances. We also use standards in wiring and in security issues, which have helped us quite a lot, amongst others.
You mentioned TC 82 and they have a number of standards for off-grid solar panels. Is this a solution used in Namibia?
This is an important issue in Namibia. People used to think of electrification in terms of access to the grid. But we have realized in Namibia is that electrification is not only about grid extensions. You can now have off-grid facilities, mini grids and so forth.
IEC TC 82 has been quite helpful with their series of standards for off-grid solar energy access and we are actually moving forward in providing access to people in rural areas that are far from the grid and might never have access to the grid. Those standards are very useful. When you go to rural areas, almost every household has solar roof panels. Taking into account off-grid energy access, you might find that Namibia is 80- 90% electrified.
Namibia had a mentorship programme with the with the UK which you renewed at the IEC General Meeting 2019. How have you benefited from the mentorship?
We had planned to formally launch the mentorship programme with a visit from our mentor but, with the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting has been scuttled and we are now looking into alternative ways of proceeding. Moving forward, we will have to rely on remote participation.
For the moment, the programme has been dormant, but we are looking forward to reviving it so that we can have full time assistance from our mentor and take advantage of what IEC has put at our disposal.
What are the biggest challenges for Namibia in terms of standardisation and conformity assessment?
The availability and mobility of experts is our biggest challenge. We have about ten mirror committees and we are trying to find experts for these committees and to participate in these technical committees.
In Namibia, we have adopted standards and put them in place. Moving forward, however, we need to be able to contribute to the standardization process. While I do not foresee us doing that in the near future, it is a goal for the future.
In the terms of the application of standards, I think we are doing quite well. We are not just adopting standards for the sake of doing so but also based on the needs of our industry.
What is the role of standardisation in helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
Standardisation is very important because standards provide the foundation for countries and industries to adopt and build sustainable technologies. Standards also form the basis for innovation. Each party will not just be doing what they want but will be able to rely upon applied best practices. Standards are also very important for quality and risk management.
In terms of the SDGs, sustainability, innovation and quality and risk management are important. Standards are available to address each of these areas.