SABS - MAKING HEADLINES
 
 

Media Centre - Making Headlines

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SABS recommends that switchgear end users use independently verified, type-tested switchgear

Since 2015, both local and international standards were amended and this has created some confusion in term of the compliance requirements of low voltage switchgear. Switchgear is equipment that is indispensable in the transmission of electricity to power consumers. Inadequate testing and purchasing of untested products can have dire consequences to the supply of electricity as a result of increased explosions or malfunctions of the equipment.

The South African National Standards (SANS) that apply to switchgear have been adopted from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). In October 2015, IEC standard 61439 replaced SANS 60439:2004 which was the standard that applied to low-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies. The new standard allows for any one of the three types of design verification to indicate compliance to the standard (Verification by Type Testing, Verification by Calculation or Measurement and Verification by Design Rules), whereas the previous standard required verification by testing without reference to all categories.

While SABS adopted IEC 61439 as SANS/IEC 61439: 2015, the testing requirements also need to include the Wiring Code SANS 10142-1:2017 for South African use.

“Switchgear end users are faced with issues of exploding switchgear or malfunctioning equipment as a result of increased temperature rise and these scenarios can be drastically reduced through ensuring that switchgear is independently tested and verified through type testing. Verification by type testing subjects the equipment to performance limits or ‘destructive testing’, functional tests and most importantly includes temperature rise tests for indoor and outdoor applications. Most manufacturers prefer to conduct verification by calculation or by design rules as this is cheaper and does not have to be conducted in a laboratory. The critical gap is that these tests exclude destructive testing of the equipment and testing to South African conditions,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

SABS has held several consultative engagements with the electro-technical industry to raise the concerns of inadequate testing of switchgear. In October 2018, SABS reintroduced partial testing or testing to customer specific requirements to enable type testing of switchgear.

“Independent type testing of switchgear, in South Africa through accredited laboratories may be an additional expense for manufacturers, however it will provide assurance to switchgear end users that the equipment is safe to use, can withstand South African climatic conditions and is functional. Switchgear end users are advised to review all the test reports provided by switchgear manufacturers to ensure that the tests have been conducted by accredited laboratories and to ensure that type testing by a South African accredited laboratory is provided,” says Strachan.

SABS, through its independent, third-party, National Electrical Test Facility (NETFA) , which is accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), is capable of conducting verification by type testing on range of switchgear equipment.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



SABS publishes standard that sets guidelines for domestic use of greywater

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has published a South African National Standard (SANS) that sets the guidelines and requirements for greywater reuse systems. SANS 1732: 2019 provides for single re-use of greywater for sub-surface irrigation of gardens and the treatment of greywater for flushing toilets.

“In a water scarce South Africa, SANS 1732 provides basic requirements and guidelines for ordinary households to safely reuse water. Most households cannot afford to install sophisticated and expensive water treatment or collection applications and SANS 1732 offers practical solutions to reuse water from baths, showers and wash hand basins for watering gardens or flushing toilets. The reuse of untreated greywater will significantly reduce the demand on constrained water resources and enable South Africans to contribute towards reducing water consumption,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

SANS 1732: Greywater Reuse Systems - General Requirements, was locally developed over several months through a technical committee (TC 60), made up of a group of industry experts and specialists. Various reviews of international standards; South African needs and development goals; a focus on the safety of people and environment concerns were some of the criteria that was taken into account through the development process.

“Reusing and repurposing greywater promotes the conservation of water, without compromising public health and the environment. While there are additional standards which guide industries and the built environment on the installation and use of greywater, SANS 1732 was developed with the focus on allowing every household to practically adopt basic greywater management,’ says Strachan.

Before a standard is published, it undergoes a period of public scrutiny where the comments of the public are taken into consideration. The standard is available for purchase via the SABS webstore, which can be accessed via www.sabs.co.za.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



World Standards Day – 14 October

October 14 – World Standards Day – is celebrated annually across the world by national standards bodies, regulatory institutions and public and private economic organisations. The celebration of World Standards Day is a symbolic reminder that standards and associated conformity assessment is an indispensable tool supporting quality of products, services, environmental protection and a myriad other indicators of social and economic development.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), a founder member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is responsible for the development of South African National Standards (SANS) working with technical experts, academics and representatives of domestic companies.

On behalf of the country, SABS currently manages 7 400 SANS that set out the requirements for various products, management systems, social development, manufacturing processes, basic services, buildings, healthcare, food hygiene and a host of other categories. In 2018, SABS published 240 new SANS, with 130 being locally developed.

“World Standards Day should remind us both of the critical importance of standards and conformity assessment and of the gratitude that is owed to the hundreds of technical, industry and government stakeholders, many of whom volunteer their time and knowledge to collaboratively develop national standards. SABS has approximately 300 standards technical committees and sub-committees in existence. Standards development involves a process of research, impact analysis and collaboration to secure quality standards, relevant to domestic conditions, which do not breach the principles of competition and support social and economic development,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

“Standards and conformity assessment are imperative for the industrialisation effort and underpin smart regulation and policy, including and with respect to compulsory technical specifications which serve to protect consumers and the public from unsafe and sub-standard products,’ explained Strachan.

About World Standards Day

World Standards Day was established in 1970 and the day was chosen to celebrate the birth of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In recent years, the day acknowledges the work of the technical experts who volunteer their time and expertise to develop standards. Members of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and ISO celebrate the day.

South Africa’s representation in international standardisation platforms

SABS plays an important role in international standardisation. In addition to being the enquiry point for the WTO/TBT agreement, SABS participates in various councils and committees in the following organisations:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO),
  • African Organization for Standardization (ARSO),
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC),
  • Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC),
  • African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC),
  • Southern African Development Community Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN).

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



SABS improves financial performance during Administration

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), which was placed under Administration in June 2018, presented its integrated annual report to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry today.

“In the year under review, the report indicates that there has been significant improvements in governance, policy, financial and operational performance at the SABS. Although SABS has produced better results than the previous year, the outlook for the next financial year remains challenging and the SABS must continue to deliver on its turnaround strategy”, said Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

The nett loss of R4.4 million for the year reflected a significant improvement from the nett loss of R70.7 million achieved in the prior year, whilst the operating loss for the year decreased by 56.7% from R79.5 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to R34.4 million for the year under review. The 2018/2019 financial results were audited by the Auditor General of South Africa. The SABS received a Qualified Opinion, an improvement from the Disclaimer opinion issued in the previous year.

“While a further deficit is currently projected for the 2019/20 financial year, SABS will continue to invest in the refurbishment and replacement of essential equipment and facilities, as well as the filling of critical human resources. This planned expenditure is required to increase revenue, maintain operational stability and position the organisation for future growth in a competitive environment. Even though SABS receives a grant from the dti, approximately 70% of its revenue is derived from competitive services in a commercial market,” said Strachan.

Other performance improvements that contributed to a better set of results included the reintroduction of testing to customer specific requirements (partial testing); the first investment of R21.6 million in critical laboratory equipment and facilities upgrades as part of a broader R400 million multi-year investment programme; and provision of local content verification for both the public and the private sector.

SABS is responsible for the development, promotion and maintenance of a system of national standards in order to enhance the competitiveness of industry and protect the quality of life of citizens. In the year approximately 7 400 SANS were maintained through a process of review and amendments where necessary, whilst SABS published 240 new South African National Standards (SANS), of which 130 were locally developed.

The work in standardisation was highlighted by SABS hosting the General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September 2019, in Cape Town. The ISO event was attended by 800 representatives from 134 national standards bodies from across the globe. During the ISO week, SABS convened a meeting of African standards bodies to take forward preparations for the harmonisation of Standards which will be an indispensable component of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA).

Strachan emphasised: “The standards value chain - from standards development and setting, to certification, testing, consignment inspection and local content verification – is a vital pillar of the industrial effort of any country. Quality assurance for services and products is a critical measure of competitiveness in the domestic market and as a measure of quality for South African products and services in export markets.”

“Although a solid foundation has been laid by the Administrators, there is much work that remains to be done, particularly in the context of disruptive technological change driven by the digital or fourth industrial revolution, to return the SABS to optimal operational efficiency and as a pillar of support to private and public sector companies in the domestic economy.” concluded Strachan.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



Building Rolle village – one brick at a time

When local brick making business, Shamila Trading Enterprises focuses on quality, sustainable growth for the future and developing the local economy an entire village grows. The business, located in Rolle village, Thulamahashe district, Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga was awarded product certification earlier this month by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for its brick making products.

The company began making bricks commercially since 2011, but realised that it needed to significantly develop the business and meet quality standards, if it were to get lucrative contracts. Thulamahashe was identified by provincial government as an area that required infrastructure and that construction resources should be sourced from local communities. Shamila Trading Enterprises realised the potential and began to significantly invest in developing the business to meet the demand of developments in the area.

“The path towards achieving product certification has not been easy, however the benefits have been rewarding and has set us apart from other brick making companies. As a business owner you just want to get on with the business of getting contracts to supply bricks, however to really participate in economic opportunities you need product certification. The SABS certificate provides assurance to our clients that our products meet quality standards and that the required management systems are in place. We intend to increase our production and we have already seen a significant increase in clients requiring our services, says Shadow Nyathi, founder and CEO of Shamila Trading Enterprises.

Nyathi has grown his business in the last 2 years from one employee making a few bricks for community use, to employing 56 employees currently. The majority (41) of employees are residents of Rolle village. “Rolle village is where I grew up, the premises of my business is where my grandmother lived and seeing Shamila flourish is a dream come true for me and my community. Job creation, the ability to learn skills and participate in the development opportunities in our neighbourhood provides tangible hope for my community for a brighter future,” says Nyathi.

Shamila Trading Enterprises is one of 29 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Mpumalanga that were identified and selected for business development, as an initiative of the Mpumalanga provincial government to enable and empower small businesses in the construction sector. The programme was conceptualised and funded by the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA). SABS was the implementation partner that worked with the SMMEs to develop quality management systems, processes and guide the way towards product certification.

“Partnerships with provincial governments and organisations like DEDT and MEGA are proving successful to developing a sustainable local supplier base for quality products. Without the significant development of SMMEs, they will continue to remain on the side-lines of economic opportunities. Such partnerships moves beyond the development of SMMEs for development sake by creating real market participation opportunities, so that local businesses and the communities they serve begin to thrive,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

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Caption: The team that was responsible for developing Shamila Trading Enterprise to attaining SABS product certification for SANS 1215 - concrete masonry units and SANS 1058 - concrete paving blocks.

Standing, from left to right:

  • Surendran Naidoo; SABS; SMME development officer
  • Solly Mhaule; DEDT; Deputy Director: Enterprise Development
  • Shadow Nyathi; founder and CEO of Shamila Trading Enterprises
  • Dumisani Mngadi; SABS; Head of SMME department
  • Jeff Velelo; MEGA; Senior Manager: Funding

Shamila Trading Enterprises makes approximately 100,000 stock bricks per day. The company has recently upgraded its offices, including the development of a dedicated laboratory that allows them to test every batch of bricks. In order to maintain SABS certification, the company will need to document the results of each batch test and is subject to random audits and independent testing of bricks by SABS.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



Product certification boosts SMME potential

After several years of developing suitable products and regular product testing, Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction CC were awarded their product certification yesterday, for bricks. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) awarded the certificate to the woman-owned business at their head office, in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

Since 2014, when the company added brick making to their portfolio of products and services they developed their own recipe for bricks and faced several challenges in meeting the specifications of South African National Standards (SANS) relating to bricks. Their SABS certificate is testament that their products have been tested and certified to comply against (SANS) 1215 - concrete masonry units and SANS 1058 - concrete paving blocks.

“Having our products tested and certified by SABS will now open many doors for us, especially in being awarded tenders. The journey has been long and strenuous as we started brick making from scratch and had to invest in the plant, the machines and in testing various mixes for stock bricks and pavers to ensure that they met the standards. Part of SABS certification includes a quality management system to ensure that all our bricks are manufactured to standard and not just a test sample. SABS helped us through this journey since day one and we are looking forward to a bright future for us and for Mpumalanga as we now move forward and start the creation of more jobs and contribute towards our economy,” says Ethel Shongwe, founder and Managing Director of Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction CC.

Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction CC is one of 29 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Mpumalanga that has benefitted from the in depth development from the SABS SMME department. This two-year investment is as a result of a partnership with the Mpumalanga provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) who conceptualised and funded the programme to sustainably develop SMMEs to contribute towards job creation and economic development.

“SMMEs, especially those that are starting out often lack the relevant resources to adequately invest in management systems such as quality management which requires product testing and certification – if they want to be serious participants in local economic opportunities. While the Mpumalanga DEDT and MEGA initiative focused on development of local products and suppliers, it is a sterling example of how SMMEs can be developed to be sustainable and have the multiplier effect through job creation. These SMMEs are now enabled to participate in existing municipal construction opportunities and contribute towards provincial goals of empowering local suppliers,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

While there were initially many SMMEs that were identified as potential participants in the development programme, there were a few (29) that met the criteria in terms of having suitable premises, equipment, human resources and in some cases the time to invest in actively participating in the programme. The programme will conclude by the end of the year and approximate ten are expected to achieve product certification status. SABS product certification indicates that products have been tested both to specifications contained in the relevant SANS and in terms of quality manufacturing processes so that every batch of products is of the same quality as that of the samples tested.

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Caption: The team that was responsible for developing Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC to achieving SABS product certification

Standing, from left to right:

  • Solly Mhaule; DEDT; Deputy Director: Enterprise Development
  • Jeff Velelo; MEGA; Senior Manager: Funding
  • Milindzisi Shongwe; Quality and Operations Manager; Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC
  • Ethel Shongwe; Founder and MD; Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC
  • Dumisani Mngadi; SABS; Head of SMME department
  • Surendran Naidoo; SABS; SMME development officer

Front, from left to right:

  • Kaiser Ndlovu; MEGA; Business development officer
  • Charles Shongwe, DEDT; Assistant Director: Enterprise Development

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Caption: SABS awards product certificates to Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC for SANS 1215 - concrete masonry units and SANS 1058 - concrete paving blocks.

from left to right:

  • Milindzisi Shongwe; Quality and Operations Manager; Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC
  • Dumisani Mngadi; SABS; Head of SMME department
  • Ethel Shongwe; Founder and MD; Mbusi Women Women Plant Hire and Construction CC

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



There are no SABS tested or SABS Approved reusable sanitary towels

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) advises consumers that there are currently no SABS tested or certified reusable sanitary towels available. SABS has been made aware that there are currently some companies selling and distributing products with false claims that they have been tested and certified by the organisation.

“All claims by unscrupulous manufacturers that their reusable sanitary towel products have been tested or certified or ‘SABS Approved’ are completely untrue. While we understand that there is an urgency for such products, especially in remote and indigent communities, we cannot allow companies to falsely sell and promote their products, infringe on the SABS name and deliberately deceive consumers. We strongly believe that hygiene products like reusable sanitary towels require testing to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose, but want to re-emphasise that SABS has not tested nor certified any reusable sanitary towels,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

South Africa is currently in the process of finalising a draft standard, SANS 1812 – for the manufacture of reusable sanitary towels. The public comments phase closed on 25 September 2019 and the organisation will now finalise the standard, which is expected to be published in March 2020. SABS will be able to test and certify products against SANS 1812 when the standard is ready.

The SABS legal team is pursuing the abuse of the SABS name, Mark and reputation with the companies directly involved.

It is expected that the standard will be published by March 2020. SABS will be ready to commence with testing and certification against the standard, when it is published. Consumers are advised to check the certification status of companies on the SABS website. The SABS website (https://www.sabs.co.za/Certification/certificationfilter.asp) lists all manufacturers who are currently certified with us.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



Regional harmonisation is enhanced as South Africa and Botswana sign MoU

South Africa and Botswana signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today to formalise their commitment to collaborate on all standards related matters, including standards development and recognising South Africa as an inspection services provider for the implementation of the Botswana Standards (import inspection) regulations.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) signed the Agreement in Cape Town today, on the side-lines of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) week 2019.

“Botswana and South Africa share similar challenges in terms of socio-economic issues and it makes sense that as we strive to improve the lives of our people and our economies, we find ways to increase our collaboration. Botswana intends to fulfil the terms of the agreement and look forward to a fruitful partnership with South Africa regarding all matters of standards development, conformity assessment and related matters,” says Masego Marobela Managing Director of BOBS.

“Regional partnerships are important for cementing relationships, sharing resources and building capacity. Such collaborative agreements strengthen ties with our neighbours and will contribute to investment led trade and regional industrial integration, in which the harmonisation of standards must play and important part,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS. Page Header
From left to right: Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS; Jodi Scholtz, Group Chief Operating Officer at the dti and co-administrator of SABS; Tshenge Demana, Chief Director of Technical Infrastructure Institutions at the dti and co-administrator of SABS; Alfred Kgotlaesile, Manager Compulsory Standards at BOBS; Masego Marobela Managing Director of BOBS; Keo Segomelo, Director Standards at BOBS.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



Keynote Address

Delivered by: Jodi Scholtz - Group Chief Operating Officer at the Department of Trade and Industry and co-administrator at the South African Bureau of Standards

Event: International Organization for Standardization – 42nd General Assembly

Venue: Cape Town International Conference Centre

Salutations:

  • ISO President – Mr John Walter
  • The incoming ISO President – Mr Eddie Njoroge
  • ISO Secretary General – Mr Sergio Mujica
  • CEOs and Directors of all National Standards Bodies present at this General Assembly.
  • Delegates and observers representing International and regional organisations
  • Members of the media
  • Delegates and friends.

Introduction:

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the South African Bureau of Standards, allow me to extend a very warm welcome to each one of you - 600 registered participants from 115 countries - to our country and the City of Cape Town. We consider it an honour and privilege to host the 42nd General Assembly of the International Organisation for Standardisation.

It is a privilege for me to deliver the opening remarks to this the 42nd ISO General Assembly.

Context, economic development and standards
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I am sure that we all agree that humanity is faced with multiple and deep-seated global challenges at a rate and scale that is unprecedented. These include the global environmental crisis; the phenomenon of globalisation characterised as it is by poverty, inequality and uneven development; the advent of massive economic disruption driven by the fourth industrial revolution; global macro-economic and fiscal uncertainty; significant threats to and turbulence in the global system of trade; and significant risks and insecurities associated with the rise of populism, increasing social unrest and regional conflicts, which pose a growing threat to global peace and security.

I am sure that you will also agree that these and other challenges demand, more than ever before, a different and a more cohesive response – we need to work together to secure shared perspectives and urgent collaborative interventions to address the problems that are increasingly impacting and adversely affecting all of us. Over the past three days, in all of the meetings that I had attended, there have been calls and requests for more sharing and collaboration – so the appetite is there.

We do not have any alternative, other than to work together in a collaborative and with a multi-stakeholder approach to shared global problems. The ISO, with a membership of more than 160 National Standards Bodies, spread across the world is undoubtedly one such collaborative, multi-lateral institution which has and should increasingly provide a developmental approach to the common problems faced by both developing and developed countries. This is critical given the pre-eminent role that standards play in conformity assessment which itself must underpin a global sustainable and equitable economic growth path.

As we all know, Standards provide an indispensable foundation for conformity assessment in the form of certification, testing and associated quality assurance services. Standardisation therefore supports a wide range of outcomes. Most importantly quality assurance provides trust and confidence which enables global trade, supporting each element of the value chain, from sourcing, production to distribution and consequently enabling healthy competition while safeguarding users and consumers from sub-standard products and services. There is a saying that a mother’s arms are the safest place for her child – except when that child is in a moving vehicle. So then, as a mom, I want to be assured that my child is a safe as being in my arms when I put him into his car seat – that the standards for the manufacture of that infant seat are the highest and that the testing that has been carried leaves zero room for error.

Without appropriate Standards it will be impossible to address other multiple challenges at a global and national level since standardisation provides the tools to achieve sustainable development, to counter the immediate threat posed by climate change and amongst others secure gender equality and optimal healthcare.

Big data – production, access, management and regulation lies at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution

There are already numerous standards applicable and under development that address the rapidly emerging innovative technologies within the fourth industrial revolution. Interoperability; digitised production techniques; the internet of things; robotics and block chain technologies – to name but a few – must rest on the foundation of appropriate and enabling standards and the conformity assessment which flows from this premise.

We are also all aware of the fact that innovation and Standards go hand in hand. Many of the innovations that have revolutionised our world including modern manufacturing and the internet, have been successful because of standards. Standards support and guide innovation. One example is the harmonisation of terminology in new fields of science and technology where successful research depends upon reliable and valid metrology, measurement and testing methods enshrined in standards. Standards can therefore reduce wasteful, redundant product development time and resources while enabling and supporting technological change, process improvement and technology transfer and diffusion, both across economic sectors and borders.

These and other observations may be especially significant for developing countries. Globalisation has brought in its train massive new production capabilities and capacity. However globalisation has also resulted in growing inequality, economic concentration and economic marginalisation of many developing countries. It is important that a more inclusive growth path is secured and that standardisation will increasingly be one of its anchors.

I understand that this General Assembly – all the member national standards bodies - will craft an inclusive strategy for the ISO as defined by this year theme “On the path to 2030”. I am confident that as you go about this important work the General Assembly will do so mindful of the consideration that the existing global division of labour and production is unsustainable over the long run. It is critical that every effort is made to ensure that developing countries move up the manufacturing value chain. Industrialisation for so-called late industrialisers is critical. This necessitates a departure from a view that developing countries must for ever base their economic trajectories on resource extraction and as exporters of primary commodities and intermediate products.

Africa’s time has come

This brings me to say a few words on the challenges and opportunities of African development. Before I do so I would like to congratulate Mr Eddie Njoroge who is the ISO President – Elect and will assume office in 2020. We would like to wish you well, Mr Njoroge in this important post and assure you of our full support.

South Africa recently hosted, at this very venue, the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa. The meeting focussed on scaling up the transformation of the regional architecture related to smart institutions; trade, investment, and industrial integration and innovation – these and other matters under the theme, “Shaping inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Continental Africa is seen as the new frontier of global growth, replete as it is with huge mineral, natural and human resource endowments. There are both significant opportunities and challenges for Africa as it charts a shared vision of investment led social, economic, trade and industrial integration. These challenges maybe especially acute in the global circumstances which I referred to above and in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

But Africa is confident that Africa’s time has come. In July 2019 the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) was launched. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be the largest free trade zone in the world, with a population of approximately 1.2-billion and a combined GDP of $2.5-trillion. The creation of the AfCFTA is significant because it aims to harmonise rules between overlapping regional economic communities that emerged in the 1980s. Trade across borders in Africa has presented challenges for decades, partly because patterns of trade reflect those established during colonial periods, namely to facilitate the export of commodities to the developed countries and the import of value-added goods from these countries.

Accordingly, the AfCFTA will be governed by five operational instruments. These are: Rules of Origin; an online negotiating forum; the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers; a digital payments system and the African trade observatory.

In the context of the requirements of a global market, these efforts will also rest on cutting edge digital connectivity; the generation, management and regulation of data and amongst many others, the generation of the skills required for a digital economy.

Of immediate relevance to this gathering and especially the delegates from across the African continent present here today, is the development and harmonisation of African standards which is aligned to ISO standards and best practices and which serve the needs of both African member countries and continental standards requirements.

In keeping with this approach is the need for the effective cooperation of the continental technical infrastructure institutions. The Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI), recognised by the African Union in August 2013, is the African platform on quality matters and operates through its pillars, the African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC), Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS), African Electro technical Standardisation commission (AFSEC) and the African Organisation for Standardization (ARSO) The harmonisation of technical regulations; standards and conformity assessment procedures; the acceptance of technical regulations as equivalent, mutual recognition of conformity assessments; transparency and enforcement and dispute settlement among African countries constitute the critically important pillars that underpin regional integration. As the work towards the effective implementation of the AfCFTA in 2020 gathers momentum, we trust that ISO will support this work wherever possible.

South Africa is an industrialised and diversified economy, with a GDP of R5 trillion, with 16, 3 million people in employment and a robust democracy with a growing population. While economic growth has been modest the long term growth trend has remained in positive territory. South Africa has a significant production and technological base with advanced infrastructure in energy and logistics with sophisticated and deep financial markets, a rising skills base with a growing number of young people with more than high school qualifications, rapid urbanization and a growing middle class.

It is of course important that we register the point that we do not see the future of South Africa as separate to the aspirations and future of Africa as a whole.

As a developing and middle income country, South Africa also faces an array of social and economic problems, some common to post-colonial countries and others unique to its apartheid history and legacy. DEVCO has deliberated a number of topics central to our country – and I would like to hone in on inequality and gender inequality in particular. The ISO 2030 strategy uses the term diversity and it is critical to develop a common understanding of what we mean when using terms like diversity and inclusion. While ensuring gender equality is central to progress and innovation as many researchers have highlighted, inclusion is just as important. A good quote to illustrate this distinction is by Verna Meyer who says that “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” So we need to be mindful about the culture, the norms and standards that we subconsciously hold to ensure that all our processes are gender informed.

I am therefore very humbled to have signed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) “Declaration for Gender responsive standards and standards development” on behalf of SABS. SABS has now joined the partnership of more than 40 National Standards Bodies that have committed to establish and implement specific initiatives focused on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (UNSDG 5) - to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The inclusion and empowerment of women in standardisation and regulatory policy is one small but important step in pursuit of an objective which I have no doubt is shared by all at this important gathering – the building of societies which are free from all forms of discrimination, prejudice and abuse against women. I trust that this important progress will spur all involved in the ISO family to even greater interventions in this regard.

Conclusion:

In conclusion I would like to wish all the delegates and observers to this General Assembly - a productive and fruitful conference; an enjoyable stay in South Africa’s mother city and at the conclusion of your deliberations, a safe passage back to your respective countries. Thank you and best wishes to all. <

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



African standards for Africa – regional harmonisation

Several African standardisation bodies convened in Cape Town today, to discuss how standards can support the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) which will be implemented in 2020. This meeting was a bi-lateral meeting on the occasion of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) week from 16-20 September 2019.

The agreement establishing AfCFTA has resulted in the biggest trade agreement since the World Trade Organisation was established in 1994. It is expected that with the reduced barriers to trade, the growth in intra-Africa trade, of an estimated USD 2 trillion, will be traded internally – within the next year.

Most African standards bodies are member of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), which established itself in 1977 to develop tools for standards development and regional harmonisation to enhance Africa’s internal trading capacity, increase product and service competitiveness globally, and uplift of the welfare of African consumers. This was first meeting of African standards bodies outside of an ARSO engagement.

“The development and harmonisation of African standards and best practices must serve the needs of African member countries and that of the region. The harmonisation of technical regulations, standards, conformity assessment procedures, enforcement protocols and a dispute settlement process need to support the African free trade agreement. African standards bodies have an important role to play in developing their nations to become active and inclusive members of this new regional market, through the promotion of standards to ensure that maximum benefits can be derived,” says Hermogène Nsengimana, secretary general of ARSO.

Several technical infrastructure organisations in Africa, in addition to ARSO will contribute to the development of standardisation, conformity assessments and quality assurance, such as:

  • The Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI),
  • The African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC),
  • Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS),
  • African Electro technical Standardisation commission (AFSEC)
  • African Union Commission (AUC)

“Standards bodies across the region need to collaboratively develop common systems and standards that sustainably support social, economic, trade and industrial integration. For South Africa with, the benefits of enhanced access to regional markets could significantly boost our economy, ignite industrialisation and foster regional harmony. The opportunities for capacity building, job creation, sharing of resources and technologies - could be the elixir for our economic woes,” says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of the South African Bureau of standards.

Africa is currently the second-largest export destination for South Africa, topped by Asia. South Africa exported 26.2% of its products into Africa in 2017, while importing only 9.9%. AfCFTA is expected to expand and diversify export destinations within the region.

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Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133



The relevance of participating in international standards setting platforms

Standardisation influences the way nations interact, trade and live. Regulations, technical specifications and policy making within countries is underpinned by standards and the standards development process.

“The standards development process is critical for efficient economies and every country that interacts on a global scale needs to be active in standards setting bodies and forums, where the development of standards can influence the nature of trade and impact the use of resources. South Africa, as a mineral-rich and biodiverse country must ensure that our resources and our communities are protected, and more importantly that global standards do not restrict our access to trade in international markets”, says Garth Strachan, Acting CEO of SABS.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 promulgated the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement to ensure that technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. The agreement encourages all WTO member to base their trade on international standards, as a means to facilitate trade.

“While standards promote understanding, interoperability and sets requirements for interactions for all levels of trade, it can also create unnecessary barriers to trade. Being an active member at standards setting platforms creates opportunities to ensure that technical specifications do not inhibit trade, discriminate against communities and restricts access to trade,” says Strachan.

SABS plays an important role in international standardisation. In addition to being the enquiry point for the WTO/TBT agreement, SABS participates in various councils and committees in the following organisations:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO),
  • African Organization for Standardization (ARSO),
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC),
  • Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC),
  • African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC),
  • Southern African Development Community Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN).

Issues such as the influence of standards on global economic trade relations will be discussed by 114 National Standards Bodies (NSBs) when they gather at the 42nd General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A delegation of 600 people, from around the globe will meet from 16-20 September in Cape Town, to discuss various standards related issues.

Ends:

Issued by:
Roshelle Pillay; Media Relations; Roshelle.pillay@sabs.co.za;0124286878, 0610300133