Strengthening participation

IEC Affiliate Country Programme committed to provide invaluable support to developing countries

By Claire Marchand

Each year sees an increase not only in the number of countries participating in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme but also in the number of International Standards adopted as national ones, national electrotechnical committees (NECs) established and Affiliate Plus status granted. In the past 12 months, the Affiliate Secretariat has been extremely busy supporting participants in the Programme through workshops, seminars, webinars and training sessions, to name but a few of the support activities organized to raise awareness and know-how in developing countries. 

Peru workshop - Santos and Rauser Amaury Santos and Françoise Rauser participated in a workshop and meetings in Lima, and were invited to speak on national radio and television (Photo: INACAL)

A full agenda

Also growing is the number of events attended by the team of two – Executive Affiliate Secretary Françoise Rauser and Project Coordinator Thomas Robertson – or those representing the Affiliate Country Programme in their respective regions, i.e. the Affiliate Leader, Rosario Uría, and the Regional Directors of the IEC Regional Centres in Africa (IEC-AFRC), Asia-Pacific (IEC-APRC) and Latin America and the Caribbean (IEC-LARC). 

Not forgetting the nitty-gritty of the Programme: supporting, and giving advice to individual Affiliate countries upon request; encouraging more active participation in the Programme and the adoption of IEC International Standards as national ones; assisting in the establishment of national electrotechnical committees (NECs); liaising with IEC members to set up partnerships for the Affiliate Mentoring Programme; and taking the time to explain what is expected of new countries wishing to join the Programme and what the benefits are, and so forth. 

The IEC family is still growing

Since the Frankfurt General Meeting, two countries have joined the Affiliate Country Programme: Liberia in November 2016 and Cabo Verde in January 2017. They bring the total number of countries in the IEC family to 170 – 83 members and 87 affiliates. 

In September 2016, after an invitation to participate in the Affiliate Country Programme was extended to Liberian authorities and a follow-up from the IEC Africa Regional Centre (IEC-AFRC), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry expressed its interest in IEC activities. Two months later, Liberia’s commitment to the Programme became official. 

Following an invitation to join the Programme, IEC-AFRC established a direct contact with the Instituto de Gestão da Qualidade e da Propriedade Intelectual (IGPI) – the Institute of Quality Management and Intellectual Property – and in January 2017, Cabo Verde became the 87th affiliate country. 

It is worth noting that, with Liberia and Cabo Verde in the Affiliate Country Programme, all 15 countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are now in the IEC family – one associate member (Nigeria) and 14 affiliates (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo). 

National, regional and international events 

As in previous years, the Affiliate Secretariat team participated in several events of importance for the Programme and for the IEC in general. They include: 

AIDMO High Consultative Committee on Standardization, Rabat, Morocco

In June 2016, the IEC and the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) signed a collaboration pledge to encourage AIDMO members that are also IEC affiliate countries to participate actively in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme. On 1-2 December, the IEC attended the 47th meeting AIDMO’s High Consultative Committee for Standardization in Rabat, Morocco. 

AIDMO membership comprises eight countries that are IEC full members, four that are IEC associate members and six that are IEC Affiliates. Three countries are not in the IEC family at this date: Djibouti, Libya and Somalia. It was the occasion for the IEC to present an update on its activities and to meet with representatives from Sudan, Palestine and Lebanon. 

ARE Forum, Lisbon, Portugal

IEC participated in the annual Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) Forum for energy access investment, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal, on 22-23 March 2017. ARE is an official partner of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme since 2014. Its mission is to bring access to electricity to all by 2030, therefore meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7: Affordable and clean energy. With a multi-stakeholder approach, ARE is also partner of the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) with a focus on four areas: policy dialogue, private sector, capacity building and finance access. Rauser was invited to share IEC experience in a panel on technical assistance for rural electrification. She emphasized the need for International Standards that are not always taken into account, even though they remain a major component of any national quality infrastructure. IEC will continue to support the SE4ALL initiative and intensify its collaboration with ARE. 

DCMAS Network annual meeting

The IEC, represented by Thomas Robertson, met with its partners of the DCMAS Network in Vienna on 29 June 2017 to exchange experiences and updates on developments and to see what scope there may be for supportive actions. In particular, collaborative action in assisting developing countries to reinforce their national quality infrastructure, including metrology, standardization, conformity assessment (CA) and accreditation aspects. To prepare this meeting, representatives from ISO, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), International Trade Centre (ITC) and IEC met at IEC Central Office on 7 June 2017 to agree on a common definition of the notion of quality infrastructure covering the areas of metrology, accreditation, conformity assessment and standardization. 

National workshop in Peru

Rauser, together with IEC-LARC Director Amaury Santos, participated in a three-day event in Lima, Peru, on 26-28 June 2017. The objective was to raise awareness among major stakeholders and decision makers to support Peru membership in the IEC. 

During a high-level meeting with Instituto de Calidad (INACAL) top management, IEC representatives explained that Peru had reached the limits of the Affiliate Plus status and outlined advantages of joining the IEC. 

INACAL and the Peruvian NEC organized a public conference on energy quality and safety, followed by a workshop with NEC stakeholders in view of upgrading their participation in IEC standardization and conformity assessment activities. 

In the framework of the World Accreditation Day, the IEC held a workshop on its CA Systems focusing on dangerous environments, renewable energies, as well as electronic components and electrical equipment. The benefits of the Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status (ACAS), in particular the e-learning modules, were underlined. During the visit the IEC met with representatives of the ministries of energy, industry and communication and was invited to speak on national television and radio. 

WTO TBT Committees

The IEC attended the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee meetings in November 2016, March and June 2017. The Commission presented its report highlighting activities of the IEC, its members, affiliates and regional centres geared to increasing the participation of developing and industrializing countries in IEC international standardization and conformity assessment activities. 

Back to back with its regular meeting, the TBT Committee held thematic sessions on technical assistance (November 2016), conformity assessment procedures and good regulatory practices (March 2017) as well as risk assessment (June 2017). At the thematic session on conformity assessment, the IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) Secretary gave a presentation on the IEC CA Systems. He explained the essential goal of a global CA System in facilitating market access through recognition of conformity assessment results from anywhere in the world within the CA System. 


Three new mentoring partnerships, between Gambia and the Netherlands, Namibia and the UK, Senegal and France, were established since the Frankfurt GM. The objective of the two-year partnerships is to reinforce the NEC through a number of activities, including identifying and reaching out to relevant stakeholders, encouraging national adoptions and implementation of IEC International Standards, establishing mirror technical committees and participating in IEC work. 

In all, the Programme has set up 14 partnerships between IEC members and affiliates. 

Mentoring meetings in Frankfurt…

During the Frankfurt GM, a number of bilateral meetings took place between mentors and mentees: Bhutan and Sweden, Côte d’Ivoire and France, DR Congo and France, Ecuador and Mexico, Mongolia and Germany met face to face and were able to review progress made so far and establish action plans. 

…in Paro…

The NEC of Bhutan held a workshop on 27-30 March 2017 in Paro, with the participation of its mentor, the Secretary of the Swedish National Committee of the IEC, accompanied by three other Swedish experts. The programme included a discussion with Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) on Bhutan wiring code, energy efficiency and hydropower Standards, followed by a workshop on Strategy and prioritization of Standards. The workshop focused amongst other things on the responsibilities, structure and duties of a technical committee as well as the relation between IEC Standards and conformity assessment. 

…and in Abidjan

The Affiliate NEC of Côte d’Ivoire held a workshop on 24-26 April 2017 with the participation of its mentor, the Secretary of the French National Committee. IEC-AFRC supported the event. The workshop, which aimed to raise awareness of stakeholders and decision makers with the objective for Côte d’Ivoire to become an IEC associate member in 2017, attracted more than 200 participants representing ministries, regulators, private sector and civil society organizations, academia and laboratories. 


The Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status (ACAS) was launched in 2013 to raise awareness and provide a better understanding of the specific requirements linked to conformity assessment (CA) activities. 

e-learning modules

As part of ACAS, e-learning modules help further affiliates’ understanding of and involvement in IEC CA activities. Three ACAS e-learning modules are now available on the IEC website, covering IECEE and the CB Scheme, IECEx and IECRE. The IECQ module is expected to be ready soon and a final set of modules on global quality infrastructure is expected to be online in early 2018. 

The ACAS e-learning courses on the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems are available free of charge through the following link: 

ACAS capacity building events

Within the ACAS framework, regional seminars help raise awareness on IEC CA Systems and activities. These gatherings are a great opportunity for experts to reach out to stakeholders in the region, provide an overview of IEC activities and focus on the IEC Systems and the ACAS e-learning courses. 

IECEE COPANT ACAS Regional Seminar – San José, Costa Rica

The IEC, in collaboration with the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT), the German National Metrology Institute (PTB - Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt), the Costa Rican National Standards Institute (INTECO - Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica), and the Costa Rica national electrotechnical committee (NEC) held an ACAS regional seminar on 23-25 November 2016 in San José, Costa Rica. 

The seminar focused on the topic of IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components. It provided a general overview of the IEC and its Conformity Assessment Systems before going into detail on topics such as its CB Scheme and the application of IEC International Standards in a laboratory setting. The seminar also provided capacity building for Affiliate countries to further strengthen their NECs whilst increasing the benefits that can be derived from using IEC International Standards and participating in IEC work. 

An international audience composed of regulators and national standards body members attended, including delegates from Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

AFSEC ACAS Regional Seminar – Nairobi, Kenya

On 12 January 2017, the IEC, in collaboration with the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC), held a regional seminar in Nairobi on the ACAS e-learning modules, back to back with the AFSEC Conformity Assessment Committee (CAC) meeting held on 13 January. Michel Brénon, an IECEE and IECEx expert who collaborated on the development of the ACAS e-learning course, took participants through a number of modules to give a detailed look at the ACAS e-learning course and information on the IEC CA Systems. An international audience attended with delegations from Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Upcoming event in Peru

A two-day event is scheduled for 14-15 November 2017 in Lima, Peru. The IEC, in collaboration with COPANT and PTB, will hold a seminar aimed at the same participants as last year, to build on what was done in Costa Rica to further develop capacity in international standardization and conformity assessment.

Affiliate Plus, adoptions and NECs

Since the Affiliate Country Programme began in 2001, more than 6 200 IEC International Standards have been adopted as national ones in 50 affiliate countries, five of which have become IEC members. 

To date, 56 countries have established their NEC with representatives of the public and private sectors, and 30 have become Affiliate Plus. 

To qualify and upgrade to Affiliate Plus, countries have to fulfil two criteria:

  • Adoption of at least 50 IEC International Standards as national ones or for reference in national regulations
  • Establishment of a NEC with representatives from both public and private sectors 

More information on the Affiliate Country Programme:

Peru workshop - Santos and Rauser Amaury Santos and Françoise Rauser participated in a workshop and meetings in Lima, and were invited to speak on national radio and television (Photo: INACAL)
Sioma solar microgrid project The IEC participated in the ARE Forum for energy access investment - featured here is the Sioma solar microgrid project in Zambia (Photo: Empowered By Light)
IEC mentoring programme for Affiliates The mentoring programme, a two-year partnership between an IEC member and an affiliate country, aims at reinforcing the NEC through a number of activities
ACAS e-learning modules The ACAS e-learning courses on the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems are available free of charge on the IEC website
webinar concept Support to affiliate countries comes in many forms, including webinars