Electricity leads economic development
Côte D’Ivoire, for decades a model among African economies, more recently went through substantial upheaval. Now, with new leaders and increased political stability, the country is engaging in an extensive programme to renovate and rebuild its infrastructure. Foreign investors are at the gate and their companies need access to a reliable supply of electric power in order to put in place a modern communication infrastructure and bring their investments to fruition.
A country in transition
During a recent visit to Claude Koutoua, President of AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) and Quality Director for CIE (Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Electricité – Côte D’Ivoire Electric Utility) in Abidjan, Françoise Rauser, Affiliate Executive Secretary, was able to present the IEC and its CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems to important members of the government and industry. Together they met with Marcel Zadi Kessy, President of the Economic and Social Council, who supported Koutoua’s appointment as AFSEC President when he was President of the Board of Directors at CIE.
Solid technical foundation
Rauser and Koutoua also met with Moussa Dosso, State Minister of Industry, Amaffon Aguie, his Principal Private Secretary, as well as the leaders of electric utilities and other stakeholders in the country. There was consensus that the IEC with its strong focus on industry is the ideal partner to help the country properly develop this fundamental infrastructure. While acknowledging the important role of AFSEC, Rauser outlined the role the IEC aims to play in the coming decades to meet the energy challenge worldwide, providing a globally relevant technical foundation. She encouraged Côte D’Ivoire to get involved in new areas of standardization in the IEC and particularly in rural electrification and renewable energies.
Global reach and a bigger choice
Côte D’Ivoire has participated in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme since 2003. In 2007 it established its NEC within CODINORM, the national standards body, to increase representation of national stakeholders in the IEC. A new Secretary has been appointed and may represent the Ivoirian NEC at the October 2012 IEC General Meeting in Oslo. The NEC has already used 51 of its 200 selected IEC standards for national technical regulations and is starting to comment on IEC International Standards. This is particularly important because, when a country comments on standards in development, it is able to share its needs. A standard that more closely fits a country’s requirements is ultimately easier to adopt. CIE shared a concrete example of how using IEC International Standards in the specification process for new equipment helped them to save both time and money while providing them with a wider choice of suppliers. While the distribution network currently complies with IEC International Standards, much of the installed equipment does not. With the infrastructure undergoing major renovation and extension, this is going to change.
Thirty members of the Ivoirian NEC from industry, government, academia and consumer groups participated in a training session run by the IEC and organized with the help of CODINORM, the Affiliate contact. During the event it became clear that the country has the necessary infrastructure to play a more active role in IEC work. Even though the Affiliate Country Programme limits Côte D’Ivoire to commenting on the work of 10 TCs (Technical Committees), they have experts potentially able to contribute to as many as 30.
Quality and safety
Côte D’Ivoire is determined only to accept companies into the country that comply with its quality requirements. It is in the process of putting in place quality and safety assessment systems. To do so it will also rely on the help of IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components). In this context, the country is aiming to reopen its national electrical laboratory, which was destroyed during the conflicts in 2011.
Since the IEC visit, Côte D’Ivoire has been granted IEC Affiliate Plus status and has applied for the IECEE Affiliate Status.
Abidjan will also host an IECEx (IEC System for Certification to Standards relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres)-AFSEC event in November 2012. The three-day seminar will allow companies and experts to familiarize themselves with the use of equipment in explosive atmospheres, including issues of area classification, equipment and system installation, inspection, repair and overhaul, as well as evaluation of personnel skills.
Clearly, Côte D’Ivoire is fully engaged in stepping up its involvement in the IEC and is on the way to taking a leading role in French-speaking Africa.