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ELECTROTECHNICAL STANDARDS EMBRACE standards to ev lve a smart industry T he need for electrotechnical standardisation in Africa is two-fold; firstly harmonisation of standards is necessary to conform to the World Trade Organisation treaties and to support both international and intra-Africa trade. Secondly, the prime goal for stakeholders in the electricity supply, ICT and related industries in Africa is to cooperate in the effective application of common standards to build the infrastructure needed to develop Africa, and to support African states in meeting the millennium development goals (MDGs). As the developed world embraced the benefits of electricity, electrical and then electronic products, systems and services, at the beginning of the 20th century, the need for appropriate international standards and conformity assessment systems developed. Electrotechnical standardisation embraces these needs and has continually evolved since the establishment of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1906. THE AFRICAN ELECTROTECHNICAL STANDARDISATION COMMISSION (AFSEC) Subsequently, in various regions of the world, structures have developed to facilitate trade in electrotechnical equipment and common application of electrotechnical standards, notably a European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) in the EU and AFSEC in Africa. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR AFRICAN STANDARDS? The framework for agreement on technical standards in developed countries was established during the first half of the 20 th century. The progressive establishment of the electricity supply 92 networks and ICT systems in these countries was done against a background of maturing electrotechnical standards. In contrast, Africa’s infrastructure to cooperate on electrotechnical standards has been either missing or ineffective. With the exception of only a few countries, there has been little or no infrastructure established for such standards to be reviewed and updated, which should be in line with progress in international standardisation. Standardisation is an essential component of Africa’s development. The agreement on standards for building infrastructure, in particular the electrical networks, is vital to realise the goal of universal access to modern energy. This is made all the more challenging given the size of Africa, which is so often not ▼ Current members of AFSEC as at 2014 fully realised, and the massive number of people on the African continent still without access to electricity. FORMATION OF AFSEC Declarations of two Conferences of African Ministers of Energy in March 2006 and February 2008 resulted in AFSEC being formally inaugurated by the founding members in Accra, Ghana, on 28 February 2008, with the full support of: • the African Union Commission (AUC), • the African Energy Commission (AFREC), • the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), • the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA, formerly UPDEA), and • the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) Together with the following affiliate members • African Energy Commission (AFREC) • Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) • East African Power Pool (EAPP) • Power Institute for East and Southern Africa (PIESA) • SADC Cooperation in Standardization (SADCSTAN) • Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) WHAT ARE THE MAIN ACTIVITIES OF AFSEC? In the field of electricity, electronics and related technologies, AFSEC is responsible for: • Identification of existing standards and prioritisation of standards related needs, • Harmonising existing standards, through either the common adoption of international standards; or where necessary their adaptation to African conditions, ESI AFRICA ISSUE 1 2015