ASTM Standards in Southern Africa
The national standards bodies of Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique, among other countries worldwide, cooperate and collaborate with ASTM International through their participation in the ASTM memorandum of understanding program.
The MOU program, which currently includes 72 agreements with NSBs and three with regional standards bodies, promotes communication between national standards bodies and ASTM International to foster awareness of the standardization systems of all those involved. The program also facilitates the development of national standards to improve MOU partner countries' health, safety, environmental and economic conditions.
Representatives from three southern Africa standards groups provide insight about how they have benefited from the use of ASTM International standards in their organizations and countries.
Building construction and related standards are being pursued jointly by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and the National Council for Construction, in part because of an ASTM International assistance program on building codes and standards that addresses the relationship between the two. As a result, a special committee has been formed to spearhead this joint standards development work in Zambia.
At a time when the construction sector is growing at a relatively fast rate in Zambia, the application of standards and codes is needed, notes Margaret Lungu, standards development manager, ZABS. Program attendees reported that their understanding of the use of standards in the built environment increased as a result of the program.
In the petroleum sector, the ZABS Petroleum Testing Laboratory puts ASTM International standards from Committee D02 on Petroleum Products to work in testing diesel fuel, gasoline and kerosene.
Mutaa Mukelabai, executive director of ZABS, says, "The use of ASTM standards enables our clients to readily understand and accept our test results since ASTM standards are widely used in the petroleum industry, starting with the refinery, the oil marketing companies as well as the energy regulator. The laboratory equipment we use has also been designed by the manufacturers to meet ASTM testing standards and this has made our work easier since we do not have to engage in the costly and time-consuming development of our own test methods."
Through its participation in the ASTM International MOU program, the National Institute of Standards and Quality (INNOQ) in Mozambique has adopted several test methods developed and maintained by Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants; the standards cover diverse aspects of fuels.
INNOQ reports that its government benefits because the standards enable the the regulation of companies so that they import and distribute high quality petroleum products. Companies that sell the fuel products can be more effective in determining whether the petroleum products meet regulatory requirements.
Established in 1983 under Mozambique's Ministry of Industry and Energy, INNOQ is responsible for defining and implementing quality policy and for coordinating all standardization and quality activities at the national level. INNOQ promotes standardization and quality in manufacturing and services and cooperates with regional and international organizations working in these fields.
"The ASTM standards have an unquestionable value … because they give us the ability to quickly adapt to market needs," says Arlindo Mucone, INNOQ. "With the ASTM standards, you can tell if the fuel has the essential requirements of quality demanded by the market."
The building blocks of infrastructure, such as metals, paint, petroleum products, and the standards relevant to these areas, hold particular interest for the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), according to recent reports from SABS to ASTM International.
SABS promotes and maintains standardization and quality in connection with commodities and the rendering of services in South Africa, and it develops standards in technical committees through a consensus process. SABS has adopted 15 ASTM standards, has consulted dozens in the development of South Africa national standards, and referenced many more in SABS standards.
Sazi Zangqa, SABS, writes, "Standards have become vital components to the economies of South Africa and Southern Africa, and are central to the South African government's plan for improving economic growth, generating more employment opportunities and creating a free trade area."
SABS administers more than 400 committees and provides services that support national and regional economic activity as well as the South African National Industrial Policy Framework and its Industry Policy Action Plan. The role of standards in this work is to protect the integrity of the South African market, notes Zangqa.
Since 2005, ASTM has offered the Standards Expert Program (SEP) to memorandum of understanding signatories, with MOU partners in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America taking advantage of the opportunity by sending representatives to ASTM International headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa., for the program. Standards experts from Southern Africa have included Percy Malatsi from the South African Bureau of Standards in 2010 and Margaret Lungu from the Zambia Bureau of Standards in 2006.
The Southern Africa Development Community, a treaty organization with the objective of fostering socio-economic growth among its 15 member states, includes Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia; nine of these member states also have MOUs with ASTM International. The SADC Cooperation in Standardization group, SADC-STAN, promotes the coordination of standardization activities and services in the region, with the purpose of achieving harmonization of standards and technical regulations.