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The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has announced that from 01 November 2022, manufacturers of non-telecommunication electronic and electrical equipment can now apply for a SABS electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) certificate of compliance (CoC) by using any laboratory that has been accredited by the International Laboratories Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

An EMC CoC is required for any non-telecommunication electronic product entering the South African market. The SABS has been providing SABS EMC CoCs since 2017, as mandated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

Since 2017, SABS EMC CoCs were only offered to manufacturers that had products tested at SABS affiliated laboratories (SABS A-Labs). While the SABS A-Lab program will continue, manufacturers now have the option of having their products tested at any ILAC accredited laboratory.

“A SABS EMC CoC can only be issued if a product has been tested and complies with the EMC standards that are referenced in the ICASA regulations. By introducing the new scheme, established manufacturers and new entrants will have more opportunities to participate in the industry as there are thousands of ILAC laboratories that can test to the standards that are referenced in the ICASA EMC list of regulatory standards,” explains Thabo Sepuru, divisional head of SABS Laboratories.

Sepuru encourages ILAC accredited laboratories to join the SABS A-Lab program so that manufacturers can enjoy faster turnaround times and reduced certification fees. The SABS A-Lab program is a Type 3 quality assurance scheme that allows the SABS to enter into agreements with accredited local and international laboratories based on the SABS conducting inspections or oversight visits to manufacturers, testing points and sampling of products as part of the continuous verification process.

“As most of the verification processes would be complete, the SABS can issue an EMC CoC in thirty (30) days for applications that have products tested at a SABS A-Lab, compared to a ninety (90) days turnaround time for applications that use test reports from an ILAC laboratory,” says Sepuru.

Laboratories that are part of the SABS A-lab scheme pay an annual fee which includes audits and inspections by the SABS. Every application for a SABS EMC CoC will incur a maximum application fee of R16 000 or R17 000 depending on the laboratory used. The fee structure, the online application forms as well as additional information can be found on the SABS website. The fees for the SABS EMC CoC issuance process, where SABS A-Labs have been used remained constant since the introduction of the scheme in 2017.

Most electronic products contain and emit electromagnetic properties. To ensure that the emissions are not harmful to people, animals, and the environment – the immunity and emissions need to be tested to verify that results comply with regulations and specifications contained in national and international standards.

Common goods such as appliances, electronic tools, laptops, printers and satellite dishes – undergo EMC testing. Once products are tested successfully – a CoC is issued, and this is a requirement for import and export purposes. Each country has differing requirements for the import and export of products and in South Africa, the regulatory body is ICASA for non-telecommunication electronic and electrical products.

EMC testing will be able to determine the following properties:

  • Magnetic fields radiating from electrical wires and other electrical components
  • Voltage drops such as power interruptions
  • Electromagnetic surges due to a lightning strike
  • Conducted and radiated electromagnetic noise
  • Electrostatic discharges associated with static electricity
  • Fast transients caused by electrical switches, motors and relays and fluorescent lamp ballasts