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Karen Hall

COVID-19 and the NLA-SA

Dear NLA Community,

As you are no doubt aware, President Ramaphosa last night announced a national lockdown for 21 days, in order to contain the spread and ‘flatten the curve’ of the global pandemic – the coronavirus in South Africa.

The lockdown is effective from midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020 until Thursday 16 April 2020.

The NLA office will therefore be closed during this lockdown period as required by law.

We at the NLA are aware that this pandemic will have a drastic effect on the economy, business, our country and our communities. It will be a challenging time for all South Africans as well as our Global community.

However, we stand in solidarity and believe that these measures would not have been taken if they were not necessary. We would therefore like to bring the following important points to your attention:


All training scheduled from 23 March until 7 April, according to our training schedule have been POSTPONED to a later date.

The courses affected are:

  • Mass Metrology (last week)
  • Basic Analytical Technicques
  • Introduction to Process Measurement
  • Uncertainty of Measurement (GUM) Analytical
  • Sterilizer and Autoclave

We will advise of the new dates in due course.


All certificates pertaining to MetCert or training can be collected after we re-open.


Should you have urgent queries or would like to contact us, please send a message on our contact page via our website or by clicking on this link: Contact us

We will be managing all emails however please expect a slight delay in getting back to you.

We are hopeful that the scientific community will find a cure for this pandemic as soon as possible but in the meantime, we would like to take this opportunity to urge you and your families to act responsibly, be kind to those around you and stay positive during this time.

Kind regards,

Steve Sidney

Executive Director

National Laboratory Association-South Africa

Advancing Measurement Science for Generations to Come

Connect to the BIPM’s YouTube channel ( on 16 November, 2018 at 11.00 Paris time (12:00 South Africa), to watch the live open session of the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures voting on the revision of the SI and redefinition of four of the base units.

The countdown to 16 November, 2018 has begun, as the global technical and scientific community eagerly await a vote to take place at Versailles, France, to adopt a landmark change to the International System of Units (SI). The change, if adopted, will remove the last physical artifact and enable all world measurements to be defined by nature’s fundamental laws.

The changes to the SI are focused on four of the seven base units, the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole, enabling, respectively, measurements of mass, electric current, temperature and amount of substance, to be as precise as those of time and distance. The new definitions will be based on fixed numerical values of the Planck constant (h), the elementary charge (e), the Boltzmann constant (kB), and the Avogadro constant (NA).

The SI, which has seven base units, the second, metre, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela, has seen increasing accuracy over the past 50 years, through dedicated work by the scientific community that will culminate at Versailles on 16 November.  If the resolution is approved, then the SI System will be based on seven physical constants, making it inherently stable and positioning our measurement system for the future.


Revised SI Highlighted at NLA-SA T&M Conference

In just a few months our measurement system, the International System of Units, the SI, will be changing to remove the last physical artifact and redefine the base units with respect to the fixed values of reference constants – thereby improving our knowledge of fundamental constants and in turn making lower uncertainties available in new measurement opportunities.

This was the overall message from Georgette MacDonald of the NRC, Canada in her keynote address – The Revised SI: A Change That’s Worth the Weight, presented at the annual T&M (Test and Measurement) Conference, which took place in Somerset West in the Western Cape, South Africa, from 8-10 October 2018.

With the theme ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ – turning a new leaf in science measurement and quality assurance, the T&M Conference, hosted by the National Laboratory Association of South Africa (NLA-SA), presented a wide diversity of papers, including international speakers from the NRC, Canada, the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering/EUROLAB, Portugal, the NCSL International/Fluke of the USA and IFMQS Pty Ltd, Australia. The conference was structured around dedicated streams on the revised SI, testing (water, food, civils materials and stack emission), calibration, and the changes that have been made to SANS 17025:2005.

Elaborating further on the revised SI, Ms MacDonald explained that the original SI had three base units – kilogram, meter and second, all of which were based on physical artifacts suitable for that time. But the SI has evolved, added more base units, namely the ampere, kelvin and candela, and incorporated several fundamental constants such as the speed of light, the Avogadro constant and the atomic mass unit.

The changes to the SI, which are expected to be implemented on World Metrology Day, 20 May 2019, are focused on the first four reference constants introduced, the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole. The new definitions will be based on fixed numerical values of the Planck constant (h), the elementary charge (e), the Boltzmann constant (kB), and the Avogadro constant (NA), respectively. Further, the definitions of all seven base units of the SI will be uniformly expressed using the explicit-constant formulation, and specific mises en pratique will be drawn up to explain the realization of the definitions of each of the base units in a practical way.

A further highlight of this year’s conference was the representation by EUROLAB (European Federation of National Associations of Measurement, Testing and Analytical Laboratories) with the president, Álvaro Silvo Ribeiro, outlining the foundation of the Federation in 1990. Quoting the first EUROLAB President, Mr Ribeiro noted that: “ When a group of Directors of eminent public and private laboratories took the initiative to create EUROLAB back in 1990, they shared a common vision: the European harmonised internal market could only prosper based on improving the quality and safety of products, goods and the environment, both to serve the European Citizens and to improve the competitiveness of European companies and services on world market.”

EUROLAB‘s general objective is to promote cost-effective testing, calibration  and measurement, services, for which the accuracy and quality assurance requirements are adjusted to the actual needs. The Federation today has 21 full members, three associated members, one observer member and two international affiliates, and numbers over 3 000 conformity assessment bodies representing over 150 000 technical experts and laboratory practitioners.

“As highlighted by Mr Ribeiro, we are proud of our special relationship, with the NLA-SA being the first organisation to have established an MoU with EUROLAB, a partnership we are looking to build on even more if we are to jointly advance the science of metrology in a rapidly changing and challenging world,” commented NLA-SA Director, Steve Sidney. “It is only through global scientific and technical cooperation that we will ensure that the required high quality data continues to be available.”

As a result of this forward thinking, the NLA-SA also established an MoU with NCSL INTERNATIONAL, represented at the T&M Conference by Mr Jeff Gust, Chief Corporate Metrologist, Fluke, United States. In his presentation, he noted that the NCSL International as one of the leading professional organizations for metrology since its inception in 1961. Initially formed to be an organization to serve U.S. interests, NCSL International collaborates with other related organisations around the world, such as the NLA.

The NLA-SA is extremely proud of its relationship over many years with both these organisations and is looking to cooperate further in the future to the benefit of its members.

The NLA-SA is the representative association for accredited and non-accredited laboratories in South Africa. This includes measuring, testing, calibration, verification and other bodies, as well as laboratories which operate in well-defined areas of R&D in the natural and applied sciences.

Ensuring collaboration in the SADC region to support the accreditation of laboratories

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PRETORIA, 11 October 2018 – Within the framework of its Sustainable Quality Infrastructure Programme for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), SQIS, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with the SADC Regional Laboratory Association (SRLA), organized an Expert Group Meeting to explore potential areas of cooperation and collaboration between SRLA members who are Member State-National Laboratory Associations (MS-NLAs),  and the National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs) that represent Member States without their own national accreditation body including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The event served as an initial platform for MS-NLAs and NAFPs to meet, share experiences, cross-fertilize, and identify potential synergies”, said UNIDO Industrial Development Officer Juan Pablo Davila. “We agreed that the SQIS programme could provide technical assistance to help laboratories that have started the accreditation process and who expressed interest in starting the process”. The main areas of collaboration include training on management systems and technical capacity building; events to market and raise awareness of the importance of accreditation; and establishment of a harmonized database of conformity assessment bodies in the region. The respective roles and responsibilities as well as joint work-plans were developed by each member state.

The event was organized with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. It took place in Pretoria, South Africa, and aimed at strengthening laboratories in the SADC region so that they can offer high-quality and reliable testing services for enterprises and regulators to facilitate trade and regional integration.



Article courtesy of UNIDO.

For more information, please contact:

Juan Pablo Davila

UNIDO Standards and Quality Infrastructure Division


SRLA and NAFP Expert Group Meeting

The Southern African Development Community Accreditation Service (SADCAS) is pleased to announce that the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) for SADC Regional Laboratory Association (SRLA) will take place during October 2018 and is intended to promote collaboration with the SADC Regional Laboratory Association (SRLA) and the National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs) in order to pave the way for UNIDO’s project entitled ‘Strengthening SADC Sustainable Quality Infrastructure System’.


The focus is to strengthen the capacity of food and water testing laboratories.

By strengthening the NLAs through a harmonized approach developed by the SRLA, the NLAs will be capable to disseminate knowledge and provide conformity assessment services to testing laboratories, thereby contribute to SADC region’s quality infrastructure development and export performance.

The SRLA members have been participating in the Test and Measurement Conference (T&MC) organized by NLA-South Africa (NLA-SA) since 2012. The 2018 Test and Measurement Conference: “Turning a new leaf in measurement science and quality assurance” aims to update and support laboratory personnel in the SADC region on new developments in the world of measurement science.  As accredited testing and calibration laboratories are preparing for the change over from ISO/IEC 17025:2005 to the newly published ISO/IEC 17025:2017, the move towards a more risk based approach in line with ISO 9001, among other changes will be highlighted during the Conference. Furthermore, the new standard for the competence of reference material producers, i.e. ISO 17034:2016, new edition of ISO/IEC 17011:2017 for accreditation bodies and supplementary documents for the Guide to Expression of Uncertainty of Measurement (GUM) will be discussed during this event.

In March 2018 at the SADC SQAM meetings in Johannesburg, SADCAS, SRLA and UNIDO agreed to partner together to strengthen the laboratories in the SADC region to obtain accreditation from SADCAS, taking in to account conflict of interest issues. The proposed way forward is to encourage National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs) (Government employees who are tasked with promotion of accreditation and marketing of SADCAS as the accreditation body) and the Member State National Laboratory Associations (MS-NLAs) (members of SRLA) to collaborate to identify the laboratories within the region who have started the accreditation process and also those who have expressed interest in starting the process. This will also contribute to ensuring the sustainability of SADCAS.


The following meetings will take place:

T&M Conference and Workshop (SRLA)

Date: 8-10 October 2018

Venue: Lord Charles Hotel and Conference venue, Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa

NAFP preparatory meeting

Date: 10 October 2018

Venue: The National Laboratory Association South Africa, 1 De Havilland Crescent, Persequor Technopark, Pretoria, South Africa

SRLA/NAFP joint meeting

Date: 11-13 October 2018

Venue: The National Laboratory Association South Africa, 1 De Havilland Crescent, Persequor Technopark, Pretoria, South Africa


The EGM aims to bring together UNIDO representatives from all the SADC Member State Associations and the SRLA in the following ways:

Test and Measurement Conference (T&MC):

  • To raise awareness, update and support NLA’s/laboratory personnel on new developments in the world of measurement science, changes related to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 which is following a risk based approach in line with ISO 9001 etc. 17034:2016 a new standard for the competence of reference material producers and, 17011:2017 a new standard for accreditation bodies.

 NAFP Preparatory Meeting

  • Annual NAFP meeting – identification of potential avenues of cooperation and final preparation of presentations per member state.

UNIDO Project

  1. SRLA Coordination Meeting
  • Reflection on progress made in previous year
  • Progress made on strategic and business plan
  • Discussion on how the regional and national microbiology training went.
  • Present survey results from Laboratory Assessment Tool 2018 and the key areas of technical assistance areas identified.
  • Discuss the website which will be hosted by NLA-SA
  • Discuss potential venues of cooperation with NAFPs
  • Agree upon way forward
  1. SRLA-NAFP Meeting
  • Kick-start the collaboration between NAFPs, SRLA and UNIDO
  • Agree upon key areas of cooperation, activities and deliverables for the next 6 months.
  • Define clear roles and responsibilities of NAFPs and NLAs in the project
  • Agree upon way forward, timeline and deliverables.