Building capacity in Africa

By Philippa Martin-King

In collaboration with the IEC, AFSEC (the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) organized a training event in electrotechnology for African experts. The capacity building event took place in Kenya, Africa in support of the harmonization of electrotechnical standards to facilitate the interconnection of the African power grid.

AFSEC group photo.

African region made familiar with processes and tools for international standardization

The capacity-building event was supported by the African Union through its African Energy Commission and held in Nairobi, Kenya on 5-6 September 2011. The two-day workshop was aimed at IEC Members and experts from African countries who are engaged in electrotechnical standardization activities and at making them more familiar with the electronic platform and IEC software such as IEC Collaboration Tools. It was followed by technical meetings. At the request of Evah Oduor of Kenya, who helped organize the event, IEC Affiliate countries that are not yet members of AFSEC were also invited to attend. Oduor is the IEC Affiliate Coordinator for Africa.

Topics that were covered included:

  • An introduction to standardization and the organization of work in standardization bodies
  • IEC procedures for developing consensus-based standards
  • A review of the draft procedures set down by AFSEC for technical committee work
  • Mastering principles, techniques and technical committee basics

Mastering principles, techniques and technical committee basics

The IEC Standardization Strategy Manager, Jack Sheldon, gave several presentations that provided guidance and expertise on developing International Standards. He outlined the structure of the IEC and the standardization process under the SMB (Standardization Management Board). He described the types of NC (National Committee) Membership and the scope and role of IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Subcommittees). He put standards and standardization into the context of a model technical regulatory system where the government is the supreme legislator in the national territory.

Role of IEC TC/SC officers

Describing the role of the TC/SC secretary, Sheldon underlined the international capacity of the position. In terms of the chairman’s role, he pointed out the importance of each committee's SBP (Strategic Business Plan). SBPs, he said, not only describe the scope of each TC/SC and their relationship with business trends, industry, technology and the market, but also with other IEC committees in taking a systems approach. The plans are an important way of attracting other experts to participate in technical work, he added. SBPs also help evaluate the impact of TC/SC standards on the environment for the complete life cycle of products and systems, from procurement to end-of-life.

Sheldon gave step-by-step hints on using the IEC's Collaboration Tools, the electronic platform that is used by TC (Technical Committee) and SC (Subcommittee) experts to produce, comment and revise their standardization work. He covered all the main areas of the application, from log-in to downloading attachments, from the discussion forum to task creation and status changing.

Protection against electric shock

Other IEC Officers accompanying him included Etienne Tison, the Chairman of IEC TC 64: Electrical installations and protection against electric shock. Tison outlined the role of the IEC TC 64 BSP (Basic Safety Publications), and TC 64's responsibilities in ACOS (Advisory Committee on Safety) before describing in further detail the role of TC 64 in protecting against electric shock, both for people and livestock, through the various International Standards and TS (Technical Specifications) that the committee maintains.

Electromagnetic compatibility

Hervé Rochereau, Secretary of IEC SC (subcommittee) 77A: Low frequency phenomena, focused on the role of the committee in EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility), low frequency emission, high frequency phenomena and PQ (power quality). The description of PQ, he said, does not necessarily fit in with the needs of a product committee when developing EMC immunity requirements. For this reason, immunity requirements have to be based on EMC basic publications that are part of the IEC 61000-2 series, not on PQ requirements.

Power systems

Don Taylor, an expert from South Africa and member of IEC TC 57/WG (working group) 14: System interfaces for distribution management (SIDM), concentrated on the control equipment for power systems and other systems including EMS (Energy Management Systems) that are used in the planning, operation and maintenance of power systems.

Measuring electrical energy

Another IEC expert, Roland Hill, is Chairman of the South African mirror committee TC 13: Electrical energy measurement, tariff- and load control. [Note that a mirror TC is set up and functions at a national level in the same manner as its international IEC counterpart]. He explained how, since the 1920s, IEC TC 13 has been responsible for electrical energy measurement and electricity tariffs and load control. TC 13 standards are used in power stations, within transmission, distribution and supply networks and by industrial, commercial and residential customers. He pointed out Africa's past contributions to IEC TC 13 and the future objectives of AFSEC TC 13.

AFSEC mirror committees

Together these five speakers represented the five technical fields that AFSEC originally selected for its initial work and for which it has set up its own regional mirror committees to carry out work at a national level:

  • IEC TC 8: Systems aspects for electrical energy supply
  • IEC TC 13: Electrical energy measurement, tariff- and load-control
  • IEC TC 57: Power systems management and associated information exchange
  • IEC TC 64: Electrical installations and protection against electric shock
  • IEC TC 77: Electromagnetic compatibility

After the workshop, from 7-8 September, AFSEC experts held the inaugural meetings of their own five regional mirror committees, nominating their chair people and secretaries. They prepared strategic business plans that were presented to the AFSEC management committee for its approval.

AFSEC 1 AFSEC group photo
AFSEC experts Experts who presentated at the event
AFSEC workshop In session.