Swiss-based IEC picks Nairobi as Africa hub

A Switzerland-based energy standards organisation has picked Nairobi to host its continental office that will coordinate efforts to combat dumping of counterfeit products as Africa races to ramp up electricity generation.

Based in the capital’s Westlands area, the office is the fifth globally for the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) — NGO that develops safety standards for energy, electronics and electrical appliances.

It becomes the latest among multinationals and global organisations that have chosen Nairobi as their regional headquarters, underlining the rising profile of Nairobi as a capital destination and communications hub.

IEC general-secretary and chief executive Frans Vreeswijk said Monday the Nairobi office would train government officials and industry players alongside coordination of practices in 48 African nations that are members.

“The office will enable us develop closer linkages with the continent to ensure quality power generation and usage through innovation alongside electronics and electrical products,” said Mr Vreeswijk during the launch in Nairobi.

The office launch comes amid growing concerns of health and safety hazard posed by heaps of substandard electronics shipped into the continent.

The IEC safety and quality assessment covers household, office and industrial electronics, electrical appliances, power transmission, smart grid, batteries, semiconductors, fibre optics, industries and ICT.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards, whose officials are working closely with IEC, last week demanded that all goods shipped into Kenya be inspected at the country of origin in efforts to tame flow of substandard goods. Kenya, like other African nations, is racing to expand its installed capacity for electricity in order to support industrial growth and light more homes.

The country in 2013 set a target of generating additional 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2017 from a cheaper mix of geothermal, coal, wind and solar sources.

Kenya’s installed capacity currently stands at 2,298MW compared to 1,708MW two years ago and aims to cut reliance on expensive power from diesel-run generators with the renewed focus on renewable energy.

The IEC entry, together with Kebs’ certificate of conformity requirement that requires imports be inspected in the country of origin, will ensure quality imported goods,” said Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae.