IEC Affiliate Forum
Mentoring and conformity assessment high on the agenda
The Affiliate Forum has been part of the IEC GM (General Meeting) agenda since 2009 and is a great opportunity for Affiliate delegations to meet, exchange views, share experiences and discuss common challenges and issues, both at the global and regional levels.
This year was no exception. In all, 23 delegates from 12 Affiliate countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tanzania and Yemen) were present. They were joined by 6 delegates from IEC member countries (Austria, China, India, Japan, Kenya and South Africa). Also in attendance were AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) President Claude Koutoua and IEC-LARC (Latin America Regional Centre) Regional Manager Amaury Santos. Both the CCMC (CEN-CENELEC Management Centre) and IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) sent a representative to the meeting in New Delhi, India.
Report from the Affiliate Leader
IEC Affiliate Executive Secretary Françoise Rauser opened the session. After a warm welcome to all participants, she made some introductions and outlined the proposed agenda.
First to take the floor was Affiliate Leader Phuntsho Wangdi, who provided some context for the introduction of the Affiliate Country Programme’s new Mentoring and ACAS initiatives before going into further detail about how Affiliate Countries could take part and benefit.
Update on first mentoring agreement
In September 2013, the first mentoring agreement was signed between Austria and Rwanda. The Forum was a great opportunity for Christian Gabriel, Secretary of the Austrian IEC NC – the mentor – and Olivier Mukeshimana of RBS (Rwanda Bureau of Standards) – the mentee – to provide first-hand information on the workings of the programme. Both explained what needed to be put in place to effectively kick-start the project, how they planned to organize communications between them in the two years – the time limit fixed by the agreement – at their disposal. They were extremely enthusiastic about the whole process and said the experience would be beneficial to both parties. Their presentation elicited many questions from delegates, mainly on practical details in getting set up for such a programme.
Getting to know the IEC CA Systems
The ACAS (Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status) will offer developing countries who participate in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme new benefits in all of the existing and future IEC CA Systems. The objective of ACAS is to assist countries who have signed the ACAS pledge to learn more about the IEC CA activities and services, before they actually start using the Systems. Affiliate countries with ACAS will benefit from regional awareness events, webinars and learning modules. They will have access to a resource database, documents and guides to increase their understanding of conformity assessment, and will be able to participate in the management activities of the IEC CA Systems as observers with commenting rights when appropriate. The learning modules will be available on the IEC website and in CD-ROM form. Some of these activities are already in place, others, for example the learning modules will be developed over the coming months.
Sharing experience on NECs
Participants in the Forum had the opportunity to learn first-hand of the challenges faced when setting up a NEC. Abreham Teka, Secretary of the Ethiopian NEC explained the several steps that led to the establishment of the NEC in November 2012 and what has been achieved in just under 12 months. He went on to describe the many benefits of participating in IEC standardization work and accessing its technical documents. The Q&A session that followed showed that the experience of one NEC could help other countries.
Support from IEC Central Office
In 2013, IEC CO (Central Office) launched new technical services and IT tools to support the work done by experts in the IEC community. Jan-Henrik Tiedemann, Business Coordinator for IEC Community, outlined these new features set up by TISS (Technical Information Services and Support) and the IT Department. He introduced the new feedback form on the IEC website, which allows users to ask a question, give suggestions or request support, and explained the new the recently implemented state-of-the-art ticketing system put in place by IEC CO.
Tiedemann went on to describe myIEC, which can now be customized and serves as personal workspace, NewDocs to keep informed about new documents published by the IEC. He then spent some time explaining the Public Commenting system which allows users to send comments on CDVs (Committee Drafts for Vote) to their NCs. Tiedemann also showed the audience how to access IECEE and IECEx certificates online.
Regional breakout sessions
After the plenary session, the Forum broke out into two regional sessions on Africa and Asia with Affiliate Leader, Phuntsho Wangdi, chairing the regional session on Asia-Pacific, and Evah Oduor, the Affiliate Coordinator for Africa, chairing the regional session on Africa.
Both breakout sessions addressed issues specific to their region and updated participants on UNSE4ALL (United Nations Sustainable Energy For All) regional events and activities. Paul Johnson, AFSEC executive secretary and secretary of the South African IEC National Committee provided feedback on AFSEC activities during the Africa session.