The wheels of government turn notoriously slow, and in South Africa, the regulatory agencies responsible for electromagnetic compatibility and safety have been grinding to a halt. As you may already be aware, each country has standards of conformity requirements to ensure imported products meet standards for trade within their region. The purpose is to protect their consumers and preserve the environment. In an uncertain regulatory environment like South Africa where the rules seem to be changing but the official word has yet to be released, our best advice is to stay informed. Protect yourself and your business by understanding the current approved rules, be aware of the undercurrent of speculation regarding changes, and determine your exposure to mitigate risk in an ever-changing international marketplace.
The official regulatory path to obtain approval for electronic parts and components imported into South Africa consisted of meeting requirements of two agencies, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). NRCS focuses on public health and safety, protecting the South African consumer and preserving the environment. They grant Letters of Authority meaning that goods are okay for import once they are proven to meet specifications of conformity. In addition, SABS offers testing, certification, and conformity assessments specifically for these products around Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC). As recent as 2013, approvals from these agencies could be obtained in as little as 10 to 20 days. In more recent years we have seen this timeframe increase dramatically.
To add to the uncertainty, SABS issued a statement in May that they are investigating allegations of non-compliance to processes and procedures. As a result, the testing and approvals coming from this agency have stopped. The unofficial take on this situation is that SABS will no longer be handling EMC but as of today the official word has not been provided. It is expected that approvals for EMC are likely to move to another agency within South Africa. This will most likely fall to ICASA, but NRCS is a potential candidate as well.
What does this mean to you?
If you are currently doing business in South Africa with regulatory approvals they remain valid. For future products or businesses trying to enter this market, the situation is very uncertain. UNICOM Engineering continues to pursue the official path to regulatory compliance in this region. The results have been inconsistent and the timeframe to achieve approval is unknown. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide insight as changes occur. The risk is certainly a factor in doing business with South Africa in the current climate. Attempting to ship product without approval puts those goods at risk of not passing customs clearance.
UNICOM Engineering takes regulatory compliance seriously as it can create a high level of risk for our customers if not followed appropriately. We monitor requirements for countries around the globe and provide expertise and services that help our customers get their goods into the hands of their customers wherever they reside around the globe. At times like these, it’s good to have a partner such as UNICOM Engineering, experienced in helping clients deliver solutions to end-users worldwide.
To learn more about regulatory compliance at UNICOM Engineering, visit our regulatory compliance page.