Since its launch in 2001, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme (ACP) provides developing and newly industrialized countries with the opportunity to participate actively in the international standardization and conformity assessment activities of the IEC. Earlier this year, the Affiliate secretariat asked affiliate countries to respond to an online survey in order to better understand the impact of the programme and how it can be improved.
According to Aristea Kyriakati, Head of Affiliate Countries and Membership Programmes at the IEC, “We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Affiliate Country Programme this year. With this milestone, we felt that it was the right time to launch a survey that allows us to know how the programme addresses the needs of participants and how it can remain relevant.”
ACP benefits…and challenges
The survey results showed that affiliate countries appreciate all the benefits of the programme with specific mention made of the access to the freely available IEC publications, the networking opportunities and the IEC Mentoring Programme. As Kyriakati notes, “We should anticipate increased interest in the mentoring programme which may result to more fruitful mentoring partnerships in the near future.”
In addition, 77% of the survey respondents rated the conformity assessment programme for affiliate countries to be a very important benefit of the programme. However, while interest is high, the survey also showed that 50% of respondents need guidance. According to Kyriakati, “Affiliates show a profound interest in accepting certificates; however, they lack competencies in the implementation. This is an area where we can provide further support through the Affiliate Conformity Assessment status (ACAS).”
In the survey, respondents noted the need to prioritize the stakeholder engagement to reinforce their standardization infrastructure and remain relevant. They identified that their foremost challenges are the consequence of limited stakeholder representation. “Providing guidance on how to attract stakeholders is another important area to address for affiliate countries,” remarks Kyriakati.
Topics for further exploration
In the survey, respondents provided topics for further training. The most popular were product certification, energy (energy efficiency, energy management, clean energy) and conformity assessment.
The respondents also indicate a willingness to contribute to the IEC efforts to achieve the UN SDGs. They indicated an interest in SDG 7 (clean and affordable energy), SDG4 (quality education) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).
As a next step, the ACP will use the survey to explore new ways to address the needs of affiliate countries. “This survey was a great opportunity to listen to the affiliates and find out what works well for them and what we can improve in the programme, “ concludes Kyriakati.
For further information, please contact the Affiliate secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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