Precisely 1,350 grams of sand, 450 grams of cement and 225 grams of water are carefully weighed, mixed according to a strict procedure and poured into a test container. The sequence for adding the “ingredients” is just as important as exactly following with the specified times. After drying, the strength of the cement can be tested. The standard that regulates this procedure has the clumsy name “DIN EN 196-1:2016-11”. To Gosego Motukwa, the standard is no stranger: “We use the same standard in our work for the Botswana Bureau of Standards,” she says as she scratches mortar residue from the mixing container. Testing the strength of cement is essential for the protection of consumers – not only in Africa, but especially there (as the continent is experiencing a real construction boom. The quality of cement – and the confirmation of this quality – is crucial so that buildings endure and are safe. Testing laboratories play an important role for this.
To train the staff of such testing laboratories, PTB and the BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing have collaborated: The test which was described above was just one part of a five-day training course for 18 cement-testing laboratory staff members from six countries of the Southern African Development Community. The BAM organized an extensive program for that week and executed it with great dedication. Wolfram Schmidt, who organized and coordinated the training course on the part of the BAM, describes the significance of the training course as follows: “In addition to exchanging information about best practices, networking between the participants is very important”. The participants will be able to exchange information with each other more easily in the future.
The intensive week also included a workshop with international experts where ways to manufacture and use construction materials more sustainably were presented and discussed. The week ended on a high note with a visit to PTB’s Berlin site. Stephen Chalimba, from the Malawi Bureau of Standards, was more than pleased with the week and said, “The information that the BAM provided us will help us to improve consumer protection and execute our testing services better”.
The event is a part of the “Strengthening regional trade and consumer protection in the SADC region” project of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is being implemented by PTB.