An Intra-Africa Metrology System
There is an increased understanding of the importance of metrology to the economy and to society as a whole. Accurate measurement forms the backbone of technical regulations, written standards and legal metrology, thus the pre-requisite for free and fair trade between nations and citizens inside the country. In every institute, company or other commercial organisation, concepts such as safety, security, efficiency, reliability and precision are of paramount importance in designing systems, which provide guarantees of product quality. Accurate and widely accepted measurements are important in ensuring that market transactions can take place and that consumers can feel confident that the goods they buy are of the quantity and quality they require. Importantly for Africa, accurate and internationally accepted measurements allow market access for food and commodity exports.
Technological innovation depends on accurate measurements. New ideas and products often can only be implemented if accurate measurement systems are in place. At a social level, protection of the environment requires that pollutants are accurately monitored. Patients receiving medical treatment need confidence in their test results and the dosage of treatment, even that the ingredients of the drugs they take have been measured properly. Similarly, industrial and commercial standards such as those regulated by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) create a demand for measurement. Case studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between the adoption of international standards and the extent of trade in measurement and testing equipment, and these studies prove that a good metrology system ultimately contributes to the GDP of a country.
Unfortunately, the measurement system in Africa at present does not fulfil the requirements. Many countries lack basic metrology infrastructure and especially a Scientific and Industrial metrology institute. In those with a Legal metrology and/or Scientific and Industrial metrology representative body or institute, there is a general lack of equipment and skills. In many instances it operates in silos, is fragmented and is not always recognised internationally
As a response, the sub-regions and nations of Africa came together to establish an intra-Africa Metrology System, AFRIMETS, with as main goal to harmonise accurate measurement in Africa, establish new measurement facilities and gain international acceptance for all measurements critical to export, environmental monitoring and sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
To harmonise metrology activities in Africa, an intra-Africa metrology system (AFRIMETS) was established, based on the regional metrology organisation (RMO) of the Americas, SIM (Sistema Interamericano de Metrologia). The initiative is supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Physikalish Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) and Legal metrology at the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) of SA.
The first AFRIMETS workshop, held in March 2006, was attended by delegates from more than 25 African countries and representatives from APMP, SIM, EUROMET, the BIPM and other interested parties such as ECOWAS, COMESA, the African Committee of Metrology (CAFMET), the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), the Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the National laboratory Association of South Africa (NLA). A draft MOU was prepared and a second workshop was held in September 2006. The first General Assembly meeting was held in July 2007 at the premises of the NEPAD in SA. The MOU was finalised and signed by 5 sub regional metrology organisations (SRMOs), namely SADCMET/MEL, EAMET, CAMET (later changed to CEMACMET), SOAMET and MAGMET, representing 37 countries in Southern, Eastern, Central, Western and North Western Africa. In addition, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Ethiopia signed on as individual (Ordinary) members.
The following strategic objectives were identified at the first GA meeting, classified into four groups:
- Satisfy and sensitize customers and stakeholders, which include the recipients of services, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), African countries, NMIs, RMOs, Governments, industry and consumers;
- facilitate trade;
- deliver value for money for measurements;
- increase number of services;
- facilitate consumer protection, health, safety and the protection of the environment;
- integrate the needs of members / stakeholders;
- sensitize customers and stakeholders about international requirements.
- Reduce cost of metrology development by use of internal institutions in Africa;
- sustain regional resources;
- ensure financially strong sub-regional metrology bodies;
- transfer traceability to end users in a cost-effective way;
- make sure AFRIMETS will be self-sufficient;
- maximize scarce financial resources.
Internal process objectives:
- Regional interactions and exchange of members;
- harmonisation of regulations and policies;
- put quality systems in place and comply with ISO 9000 and 17025;
- facilitate the removal of Tats;
- put in place continuous improvement strategies;
- improve capacity of members;
- improve standard of metrology.
Employee learning & growth objectives:
- Training people at lower cost;
- establishment of databases for use by members;
- use of African experts for training;
- become a forum for exchange between metrology organisations;
- facilitate the technical competence of personnel;
- share of expertise and awareness;
- develop world-class metrologists;
- establish a culture of continued learning.
The second GA was held in Tunisia in July 2008. All the regions were represented. The MOU was updated and a work plan was adopted for 2008/2009. The PTB and LNE joined AFRIMETS as the first Associate members. Euramet, CAFMET and the Arab Federation for Metrology joined as Observers.
In June 2009, the four Ordinary members and Libya and Sudan formed the North-East and Western Metrology Programme (NEWMET), with as aim to join the Ordinary members of AFRIMETS and to provide a sub-regional metrology organisation for the predominantly English speaking countries in Africa North of the equator. Mauritania also joined MAGMET, increasing the official membership of AFRIMETS to 44 countries.
The third GA was held in SA in July 2009 and included working group (WG) meetings to discuss pilot studies, proficiency testing schemes and regional key comparisons. A summary of the outcomes is available under the documents of the 3rd GA. The fourth (Egypt), fifth (Kenya), sixth GA (Benin), seventh GA (Zambia) and eight GA (Ethiopia) included WG meetings.
AFRIMETS is governed by the GA and an Executive Committee, representing the 6 sub-regions in Africa, that facilitates the strategic management. The members are as follows:
|Mr Dennis Moturi
|Mr Jaco Marneweck
|Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amer
|Head of the Secretariat
|Dr Wynand Louw
|Mr Mr Mohamed Berrada (Sci/Ind)
|Mr Lotfi Khedir (Legal)
|Mr Eric Karamuzi (Sci/Ind)
|Mr John-Paul Musimami (Legal)
|Mr KY Oumarou (Sci/Ind)
|Mr Salifou Issoufou (Legal)
|Mr Obiora Manafa (Sci/Ind)
|Mr Paul Date (Legal)
|Mr Aristide Gabin Nguedeu (Sci/Ind)
|Dr Silla Sembala (Legal)(Legal)
|Mr Donald Masuku (Sci/Ind)
|Mr Jaco Marneweck (Legal)
|Ex-Officio and Invited Members
|Mr V Mathale
Dr Noha Emad khaled
AUC appointed representative
Directors of the Member States Party to the Metre Convention (Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia)