A new leader and a birthday
A special platform allows Affiliate countries participating in the IEC GM (General Meeting) to exchange views, share experiences and discuss common challenges and issues. In Melbourne they were also able to meet their new leader, Phuntsho Wangdi from Bhutan, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Programme.
After a warm welcome by Françoise Rauser, IEC Affiliate Secretary, who outlined rights and duties of participants at the GM, Phuntsho Wangdi shared the report that is submitted every year by the Affiliate Leader to the IEC SMB (Standardization Management Board) and CAB (Conformity Assessment Board). He presented the expanded Affiliate team, with Carlos Rodriguez having taken on the new role of Affiliate Coordinator for Latin America.
Steadily getting stronger
Wangdi’s report presented the success of the Programme since its inception in 2001 and provided a brief flashback on leaders, key milestones and the increasing participation of countries. Today, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme counts 82 participants, the most recent addition being Azerbaijan.
A growing number of national adoptions
Adoption trends continue to be very positive, with 248 new national adoptions since the last report, bringing the total to 3 548 IEC International Standards being adopted in 37 Affiliate countries.
Four additional countries have set up their NEC (National Electrotechnical Committee) since Seattle, bringing the total to 30.
Affiliate Plus status
In 2011 Malawi was granted Affiliate Plus status, which now comprises 13 countries. This status is reserved for countries that have adopted at least 50 IEC International Standards and established a NEC. It was created in 2009 to satisfy additional needs of countries which were already making full use of the possibilities offered by the normal Affiliate Country Programme.
Electrical Energy Efficiency survey results
He also provided insights into the results of the CAB survey on E3 (Electrical Energy Efficiency), which had been carried out in the context of the Affiliate Country Programme and generated a record participation of 54 % of all Affiliate countries. Key findings were that a majority of participants are asking for a harmonized E3 approach, an E3 conformity mark, regional awareness workshops and campaigns, as well as training programmes.
International cooperation and training
Cooperation with international organizations reached a new high in 2011: the IEC co-chaired the DCMAS Network with ISO; ran the first ISO/IEC regional course on Adopting and Referencing International Standards in Singapore; welcomed a delegation of 25 countries at its headquarters as part of the WTO (World Trade Organization) training course on the TBT Agreement, and more. The IEC is cooperating with UNIDO on a joint brochure on CA (Conformity Assessment) and will participate in a workshop on the same topic.
Furthermore, Wangdi outlined the strong participation of the IEC in regional events and pointed to training courses that were held in several countries in Latin America.
Wangdi stressed the need to continue strong collaboration with regional organizations and outlined the Programme’s objectives for 2012:
- Reinforce collaboration between CAB and the Affiliate Secretariat, particularly on E3 issues
- Organize a CA (Conformity Assessment) training course at the regional level and a special workshop on CA possibly at the 2012 GM in Oslo
- Cooperate with international partners to raise awareness of IEC work in standardization and its CA Systems.
- Reach out to the Pacific Islands Forum and continue to increase the focus on the Asia region through the Affiliate Leader and IEC-APRC
- Continue to raise awareness in Central Europe and French-speaking Africa
Accessing and commenting on IEC documents
After a brief explanation of the scope of his TC (Technical Committee), Umberto Rossi, Chairman of TC 86: Fibre optics, explained how Affiliate countries could access and comment on IEC documents via the IEC website. After being granted a general and technical login by the Affiliate Secretariat, countries can access and comment on circulated working documents, up to and including the CDV stage (special rules as well as limitations with regard to the number of experts and TCs/SCs apply). All submitted comments are forwarded to the respective TC or SC Secretary for consideration and reply. Rossi also pointed out that some IEC documents could be accessed by all without restrictions.
Rossi concluded his presentation by underlining how important an efficient communication and information infrastructure was for the development of any country; participation in TC 86 gives Affiliates access to the most advanced technology in this area. He mentioned that to date Mongolia and Jordan (now a member) had selected TC 86 and invited other Affiliate countries to participate in its activities.
Case study: Tanzania
Tanzania’s Head of Engineering Standards Department, Thomas M. Mnunguli, presented how Tanzania participates in IEC standardization work. He underlined the benefits of the standards adoption process and the advantages that participation in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme offers. Mnunguli’s presentation received a lot of interest from participants.
Focus on regional issues
The second part of the Affiliate Forum consisted of three breakout sessions where participants were able to focus on regional issues. In the absence of Carlos Rodríguez, IEC Regional Manager for Latin America Amaury Santos met with the Latin American delegates. IEC Affiliate Secretary Françoise Rauser and Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi convened the session on Asia-Pacific. Each session provided feedback on IEC representation in regional events and focused on ways of increasing participation in technical work. It also encouraged Affiliates to set up their own NEC to take advantage of IEC International Standards and better use the tools provided by the IEC.
Evah Oduor, IEC Affiliate Coordinator for Africa, convened the session on Africa which brought together almost 20 participants. She presented a report on her activities representing the IEC in the region and facilitating the participation of African countries in IEC work. She also gave AFSEC Executive Secretary Paul Johnson and President Claude Koutoua an opportunity to give an update on AFSEC.
Paul Johnson provided insights into the structure and work of AFSEC, which was founded in 2008 with the support of the IEC. AFSEC is responsible for the identification and harmonization of standards in the area of power generation and brings together representatives of the power industries of many members of the African Union. The mandate of the conference of African Ministers of Energy is for AFSEC to be a subsidiary body of AFREC (African Energy Commission).
The close cooperation between the IEC and AFSEC (an official agreement between the two organizations was signed in 2009) led to the organization of a capacity-building workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2011. An outcome of the workshop was the formation of the first five mirror Technical Committees to the IEC; the election of chairmen and secretaries and the establishment of the strategic business and action plans as well as tasks of each TC. A vital next step will be to increase the membership of each TC to include all African Affiliate countries and to motivate them to also become statutory members of AFSEC.