On 1 September 2020, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), which is also a founding member of the Organisation for International Standardisation (ISO), celebrated its 75th year of developing national standards, providing quality assessment services and the testing of advanced materials and products in South Africa.
The SABS, established as the national standardisation authority through the promulgation of the Standards Act (Act 24) on 1 September 1945, is responsible for maintaining South Africa’s database of more than 7 000 national standards, as well as developing new standards and revising, amending or withdrawing existing standards in the country.
SABS subject matter experts represent South Africa’s national interests in the development of international standards on international bodies, such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
South Africa, which has a long and proud history of involvement with these bodies, plays an active role in regional standards bodies, such as the:
- African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO),
- Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC),
- African Electrotechnical Standardisation Commission (AFSEC), and the
- Southern African Development Community Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN).
Currently, the SABS holds the Secretariat for SADCSTAN, the standardisation body for the 14 Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations.
The Bureau also serves as the national notifications authority or enquiry point for the World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade agreement (WTO/TBT).
Jodi Scholtz, the Lead Administrator of SABS says that, “Standards are the foundation for the synchronisation of regulation, technical specifications, enforcement protocols and conformity procedures. Simply put, standards set up the rules of engagement for all transactions and interactions in the global trading system and amongst countries and businesses. In our 75 years of existence, the SABS has been an active member at global standards development bodies and we have never faltered in our vision to serve the interests of the South Africa industry and to advance growth in our economy.”
“The development of standards essentially sets out the framework for the exchange of services and products, both locally and globally. This is the crux of industrialisation. South Africa must in the next 75 years improve its standard setting agenda to ensure better protection of its minerals and resources, advance social development and improve the lives of its people. The advent of new technologies, brought about by the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), will also require new standards development so as to speed up their adoption yet not compromise on safety and quality. Never before have standards been as important as they are now for international trade. The post-Covid 19 business environment will have a strict focus on quality and global standards”, explains Scholtz.
Scholtz went on to say that the SABS also performs conformity assessments, certification services, training services, local content verification, consignment inspections and advisory services.
The Standards Act, Act 24 of 1945 has subsequently been amended and the SABS operates under the mandate of the revised Standards Act (Act 8 of 2008).