Strong and infallible support

IEC Affiliate Country Programme helps bring tailor-made solutions to developing countries

By Claire Marchand

The past 12 months were a busy period for the Affiliate Secretariat team. From Bhutan in November 2013 to the Democratic Republic of Congo in September 2014, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme was represented at several major events in Asia and Africa. These trips were also great opportunities to organize country visits and meet with NECs (national electrotechnical committees) and their stakeholders.

From left: Tandin Wangchuk, Secretary of the Bhutan NEC, Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser and Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi From left: Tandin Wangchuk, Secretary of the Bhutan NEC, Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser and Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi

Visit to Bhutan

After the IEC General Meeting in New Delhi, India, at the end of October 2013, IEC Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser, accompanied by IEC-APRC (Asia-Pacific Regional Centre) Regional Director Dennis Chew, were invited by Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi to pay a visit to neighbouring country Bhutan and meet with stakeholders, regulators, utilities and government representatives.

Rauser and Chew led a workshop where they gave presentations outlining IEC activities in general, the Affiliate Country Programme and the CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems, and focusing more specifically on IEC International Standards for rural electrification. They also had a training session for Members of the newly-established NEC. Rauser and Chew had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Bhutan Electricity Authority, the local utility, which is one of the NEC stakeholders, and with the Minister of Economic Affairs.

The last leg of the journey was a visit to the Punatsangchhu-I Hydroelectric Project, jointly managed by Bhutan and India and expected to be fully operational by 2020. Discussions with the managing team focused on the benefits of the Affiliate Country Programme and on how the dam team could get involved in the NEC.

Africa Smart Grid Forum

IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk and Rauser inaugurated and attended the firstSmart Grid Forum, held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 14-16 May 2014. The event was the first of its kind on the African continent.

The event was organized jointly by AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission), CIE, the Ivoirian electricity company, and the NEC of Côte d’Ivoire with strong support of the IEC. The Forum was also backed by AFREC (African Energy Commission of the African Union), APUA (Association of Power Utilities of Africa), KATS (Korean Agency for Technology and Standards), SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization), DKE, the IEC National Committee of Germany. It took place under the auspices of the Minister of Petroleum and Energy who opened and closed the Forum. 300 experts from 24 countries – of which 20 were African – participated in sessions on:

  • the evolution of production means in the context of Smart Grids
  •  the evolution of smart transportation and distribution systems
  •  new ITC and Smart Grids
  •  Smart Grid and consumers
  •  development of distribution networks
  •  Smart Grid in the city

As a concrete outcome the Forum recommended that African countries develop a comprehensive "Smart City" strategy to bring welfare to their people. This should include an action plan that aims to:

  • improve urban services using Smart Grids
  •  develop micro grids with independent remote production sources
  •  optimize management of all contracts for urban services

As Vreeswijk stated: "Smart Grids are not just an option for Africa, they are a necessity."

IECEx-AFSEC international seminar

AFSEC and IECEx (IEC System for Certification to Standards relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres) organized an international seminar in Lubumbashi, DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), on 7-8 September 2014. AFREC (African Energy Commission) and OCC(Office Congolais de Contrôle) collaborated to the organization of the event, in partnership with the Katanga mining authorities and Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, the governor of the Katanga Province.

The first day of the seminar was devoted to the implementation of IEC International Standards followed by a site inspection with practical exercises, report and explanation of findings the second day. It was a unique opportunity for experts, senior staff and professionals from the mining and electrical sectors in African countries to learn about IECEx and the benefits of using the System.


The UN SE4ALL (United Nations Sustainable Energy for All) initiative was launched in 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, setting out the following objectives for 2030:

  • universal access to modern energy services
  •  doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  •  doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix

The IEC is a partner of UN SE4ALL. Paul Johnson, Secretary of the South African NC (National Committee) and Executive Secretary of AFSEC, represented the Commission at a conference on “Rural Energy Access: A Nexus Approach to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication”, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4-6 December 2013.

The main theme of the Conference, organized by UN DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs), in collaboration with SE4ALL, UN Energy/UNECA (UN Economic Commission for Africa), was the essential role that access to energy services has for enabling sustainable development and poverty eradication. Over 250 participants from 40 countries attended the Conference.

IEC supports rural electrification

The IEC has responded positively to a request from the United Nations Foundation to make the IEC/TS 62257 technical specifications more easily available to key stakeholders in developing countries. This request was reinforced by the conclusions of a 2012 workshop on rural electrification held by AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) with experts from IEC TC (Technical Committee) 82: Solar photovoltaic energy systems. As result of that workshop, AFSEC is developing a technical guide for sustainable off-grid electrification, with reference to IEC/TS 62257 series.

The IEC, World Bank Group and United Nations Foundation have worked together to give access to the IEC/TS 62257 series to key stakeholders at discounts ranging between 50% and 75%. Details are available from the IEC Webstore.

Cooperation with UNIDO

The IEC was invited, together with other DCMAS Network* partners, to participate in the UNIDO(United Nations Industrial Development Organization) Trade Capacity Building course for Caucasus and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, held in Warsaw, Poland on 9-16 April 2014. Four IEC Members – Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – and two IEC Affiliate countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan – were represented. Rauser gave a presentation on IEC standardization and conformity assessment activities, provided an overview of the IEC structure and explained how to get further involved in the IEC. The presentation was well received with many questions arising from the delegates.

* DCMAS Network (Network on Metrology, Accreditation and Standardization for Developing Countries) brings together 10 international organizations: BIPM (Bureau international des poids et mesures), IAF (International Accreditation Forum), IEC, ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), ITC(International Trade Center), ITU (International Telecommunication Union), OIML (International Organization of Legal Metrology), UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and UNIDO.

New Affiliate Leader nominated

IEC General Secretary Frans Vreeswijk has nominated Rosario Uría of Peru as the new Affiliate Leader. On 1 January 2015, she will take over from Phuntsho Wangdi, of Bhutan, for a two-year term. Uría is Technical Secretary of the Standardization and non-Tariff Barrier Surveillance Commission at INDECOPI (Instituto Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia y de la Protección de la Propiedad Intelectual).

As Leader, Uría will be the “voice” of the Affiliate countries, will represent them and submit a report on the Programme to the SMB (Standardization Management Board) and CAB(Conformity Assessment Board) at IEC General Meetings. Her role will also be to enhance the active participation of all Affiliate countries and encourage the establishment of NECs.

Mentoring programme for Affiliate countries

In addition to Rwanda, the first Affiliate country to benefit from the Mentoring programme in 2013 with Austria as mentor, four more Affiliates have established partnerships with IEC Members: Afghanistan and Malaysia, Côte D’Ivoire and France, DRC and France, Ethiopia and Germany. Uruguay and Norway have also agreed on a technical mentoring in the context of IEC TC 14: Power transformers.

The IEC Affiliate countries and their respective mentors have committed for a period of two years to reinforce their NEC through activities such as increasing the national adoptions of IEC International Standards, establishing mirror technical committees and understanding the working process for comments on technical documents.

NECs, Affiliate Plus and adoptions

Since the General Meeting in New Delhi, four Affiliate countries have established their NEC: Botswana, Cameron, Dominica, and Guinea. This brings the total number of NECs in the Affiliate Country Programme to 44.

Affiliate countries are encouraged to set up their own NEC and if needed, the Affiliate Secretariat can help and assist them in their endeavour through webinars.

Two Affiliates have been granted Affiliate Plus status: Botswana and Zimbabwe. In all, 21 countries now have Affiliate Plus status.

To qualify and upgrade to Affiliate Plus, countries have to fulfill 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

Since the Programme began in 2001, more than 4 000 IEC International Standards have been adopted as national ones in 42 Affiliate countries.

For more information on the Affiliate Country Programme: please go to:

From left: Tandin Wangchuk, Secretary of the Bhutan NEC, Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser and Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi From left: Tandin Wangchuk, Secretary of the Bhutan NEC, Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser and Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi
Africa Smart Grid Forum opening ceremony - From left: AFSEC President Claude Koutoua, IEC General Secretary Frans Vreeswijk Africa Smart Grid Forum opening ceremony - From left: AFSEC President Claude Koutoua, IEC General Secretary Frans Vreeswijk