More hectic agenda
What makes a difference perhaps is the ever growing number of events attended by the team of two – Executive Affiliate Secretary Françoise Rauser and Project Coordinator Thomas Robertson – or those representing the Affiliate Country Programme in their respective regions, i.e. the Affiliate Leader, Rosario Uría, and the Regional Directors of the IEC Regional Centres in Asia-Pacific (IEC-APRC), Latin America (IEC-LARC) and more recently Africa (IEC-AFRC).
Not forgetting the nitty-gritty of the Programme: supporting, and giving advice to individual Affiliate countries upon request; encouraging more active participation in the Programme and the adoption of IEC International Standards as national ones; assisting in the establishment of National Electrotechnical Committees (NECs); liaising with IEC Members to set up partnerships for the Affiliate Mentoring Programme; and taking the time to explain what is expected of new countries wishing to join the Programme and what the benefits are, and so forth.
New countries on board
Since the Minsk GM, two countries have joined the IEC Affiliate Country Programme: Uzbekistan, in October 2015 and Syria in early July 2016. Together with Kuwait, which became an IEC Member in August 2016, they bring the total number of countries in the IEC Family to 169 – 84 Members and 85 Affiliates.
Uzbekistan is affiliated through its national standardization body, UZSTANDART; Syria, through the Syrian Arab Organization for Standardization & Metrology (SASMO) which is part of the Ministry of Industry.
The next step for both countries is now to bring together stakeholders from the private and the public sectors to establish a NEC and start benefitting from what the IEC can offer to support trade and development.
Conferences, workshops and seminars
IEC and PTB, the National Metrology Institute of Germany, organized a workshop on quality infrastructure and its link to energy management, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in January 2016. The event brought together some 100 participants from the business sectors interested in energy management, the Uzbek National Standards Body (UZSTANDARD), public utility companies and other institutions.
The workshop was followed by an IEC workshop for UZSTANDARD and potential NEC stakeholders, including the International Solar Energy Institute (ISEI), cable manufacturers and the public electricity company. The objective was to discuss what joining the Affiliate Country Programme entails as well as the needs and benefits of setting up a NEC.
Second Africa Smart Grid Forum
The IEC participated actively in the Second Smart Grid Forum for Africa held in Cairo, Egypt in March 2016. Several IEC international experts shared their expertise, including the convenor of IEC Systems Committee (SyC) Smart Energy and the Convenor of IEC Systems Evaluation Group (SEG) 6: Non-conventional Distribution Networks/Microgrids. The forum included six technical sessions, workshops and ministerial discussions. It was opened by the President of the IEC National Committee (NC) of Egypt and the President of the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC).
The AFSEC 5th General Assembly and the third meeting of the SEG 6 experts were also held in Cairo, straight after the Forum.
SADC 30th General Assembly
The IEC Coordinator for Africa, Evah Oduor – now one of the IEC-AFRC Directors – represented the IEC at the 30th General Assembly of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. SADC brings together 15 countries, which are all part of the IEC Family (14 Affiliates and one Full Member, South Africa). The idea was to present IEC activities, in particular the participation of the SADC Region. There was a great deal of interest in IEC International Standards for national adoption as a number of regulatory organizations are referencing them in their regulations.
DCMAS Network annual meeting
The IEC met with its partners of the DCMAS Network in Paris, France, in March 2016 to exchange experiences, update one another on specific developments. Discussions focused on collaborative action in assisting developing countries to reinforce their national quality infrastructure, including metrology, standardization, conformity assessment (CA) and accreditation aspects. Present at the DCMAS Network meeting were the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), ISO and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
In April, the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) organized the Africa-European Union Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (ARE-RECP) Off-Grid Investment Forum 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The IEC was represented and took part in a panel discussion on Talking Business and investment in Asia with hybrid minigrids and Facilitating rural electrification in developing countries through the use of IEC International Standards and CA Systems.
The event gave the IEC the opportunity to meet with regulators, private companies and investors, to better understand the challenges they faced and offer tailored advice on how to make best use of what the IEC can provide in terms of solutions for rural electrification.
IEC expands collaboration with Arab-speaking countries
In April also, Françoise Rauser and IEC-AFRC Regional Director François Ahoti attended the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) 46th meeting of the High Consultative Committee for Standardization (HCCS) in Rabat, Morocco. AIDMO is in charge of implementing the Regional Arab Quality Infrastructure for 2014-2018. Seventeen AIDMO countries are part of the IEC, either as Members (12) or Affiliates (5).
Ahoti’s previous visit to the Moroccan NC led to an invitation for the IEC to present its activities, in particular its Programme for developing countries. The objective was to encourage all AIDMO members to take an active part in IEC work and to invite Djibouti, Somalia and Syria to join the Affiliate Country Programme (Syria joined the Programme in early summer).
Following this meeting, in June, AIDMO signed a Collaboration Pledge with the IEC to encourage its members that are also IEC Affiliates to participate actively in the Affiliate Country Programme.
Educating the younger generation
Rosario Uría, IEC Affiliate Leader since January 2015, attended the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) General Assembly in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in April 2016. Her presentation focused on an overview of INACAL, Peru’s National Standards Body and a member of COPANT, and the International Standardization Olympiad, where the Peruvian team won the Gold Medal. She explained that Peru has set up a National Standardization Olympiad to develop a quality culture and encourage creativity among students of the secondary level, the ultimate goal being to find sustainable solutions to everyday life problems through the use of standards. The IEC Affiliate Leader also updated the General Assembly on the IEC Affiliate Country Programme, including new guides and forthcoming guidelines for NECs.
World Trade Organization
WTO TBT Committee
The IEC attended the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee meetings in November 2015, March and June 2016, and presented its reports highlighting activities of the IEC, its Members, Affiliates and Regional Centres geared to increasing the participation of developing and industrializing countries in IEC international standardization and CA activities.
WTO/ESCAP Regional Workshop
Last November in Bangkok, Thailand, IEC-APRC Director Dennis Chew attended the workshop, jointly organized by WTO and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), on WTO Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade for Asia. He gave an overview of the IEC and its Affiliate Country Programme to participants, mostly government regulators and trade officials.
WTO national workshop in Bolivia…
The workshop, held in Bolivia in February, focused on Technical Barriers to Trade and the importance of International Standards, regional organizations and technical regulations for international trade. It also addressed how the local government can participate on TBT issues. IEC-LARC Regional Director Amaury Santos presented IEC standardization activities.
In May, the WTO held a national workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe on the main provisions of the TBT Agreement, including transparency and notifications, the work of the TBT Committee and International Standards and systems for conformity assessment. On the request of Zimbabwe, an IEC Affiliate, the WTO invited the IEC to share its expertise in international standardization and CA. IEC was represented by Paul Johnson, Secretary of the South African NC and AFSEC Executive Secretary.
In the past year, a new partnership, between Ecuador and Mexico, has been established in the Mentoring Programme for Affiliate Countries. The IEC Affiliate countries and their respective mentors have committed for a period of two years to reinforce their NEC through a number of activities, including identifying and reaching out to relevant stakeholders, increasing the number of national adoptions of IEC International Standards and establishing mirror technical committees.
To date, 11 partnerships have been established under the Mentoring Programme for Affiliates: Afghanistan-Malaysia, Bhutan-Sweden, Côte D’Ivoire-France, DR Congo-France, Ecuador-Mexico, Ethiopia-Germany, Mongolia-Germany, Peru-Mexico, Rwanda-Austria, Uruguay-Norway, Zambia-Austria.
To raise awareness and provide a better understanding of the specific requirements linked to CA activities, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme Secretariat launched the Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status (ACAS) in 2013.
As part of ACAS, the IEC provides e-Learning modules to further the Affiliate Country participants' understanding of and involvement in IEC CA activities. Two ACAS e-Learning modules are now available on the IEC website, covering IECEE and the CB Scheme, IECEx. The IECRE modules are expected to be ready soon, followed by IECQ.
IECEE EASC ACAS Regional Seminar
The IEC collaborated with the Euroasian Interstate Council (EASC) to hold an IECEE ACAS seminar on 20-21 April 2016 in Baku, Azerbaijan. After a general overview of the IEC and its CA Systems, the seminar focused on the IECEE CB Scheme, the application of IEC International Standards in a laboratory setting, and preparing a laboratory for operation in the IECEE CB Scheme. Around 30 delegates with a background in certification and testing came from the EASC region, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Affiliate Plus, adoptions and NECs
Since the Affiliate Country Programme began in 2001, more than 5 700 IEC International Standards have been adopted as national ones in 48 Affiliate countries, five of which have become IEC Members.
To date 50 countries have established their NEC with representatives of the public and private sectors, and 27 have become Affiliate Plus.
To qualify and upgrade to Affiliate Plus, countries have to fulfil two criteria:
- Adoption of at least 50 IEC International Standards as national ones or for reference in national regulations
- Establishment of a NEC with representatives from both public and private sectors
More information on the Affiliate Country Programme: www.iec.ch/affiliates/