South African to lead world metrology body

April 15th, 2019, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Dr Wynand Louw.

Dr Wynand Louw, one of South Africa’s most prominent and longest serving metrologists, has been elected to hold the presidency at the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM). The election took place during the first session of its 108th meeting held in March 2019 at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris, France.

Dr Louw currently serves as director for international liaisons at National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) with a career spanning 33 years in a variety of scientific disciplines and metrology in specific. In 2013, Dr Louw was elected to the CIPM and became the president of the Consultative Committee for Ionising Radiation (CCRI) in 2015. Today, he is the first African president of the CIPM. “The establishment of the Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS), the official Regional Metrology Organisation for Africa, and to be elected as the inaugural chair of AFRIMETS, was a specific highlight in my career and prepared me for the presidency of the CIPM” he said in reply to accolades paid by the chairperson of NMISA and his colleagues at the election celebration function held in April in Pretoria.

The president of the CIPM has three primary duties: to fulfil the role of the chairman of the board for the governance of the BIPM; leading the consultative committee presidents in the coordination of worldwide metrology activities; and to represents the metrology system organs of the CIPM and BIPM, internationally.

Dr Louw said that his vision for the next four years is to make the international system more inclusive and find innovative ways to ensure that more countries from emerging economies participate in the activities of the Metre Convention at an international level.

“I believe that Africans have a special ability to work with a diverse audience. Since our roots are ‘rural’, we understand the needs of the developing world. I also had extensive exposure to the developed world during my professional career; therefor, I can propose ways to link the two worlds within the international metrology system. While I am proud of my election and thank my NIMSA colleagues for their support, it is not only me who was elected but all of us at NMISA”, he said.

The appointment of Dr Louw has specific significance for Africa as a continent, as this is only the third time in the 140 years existence of the Metre Convention that the presidency is outside Europe. It showcases the tremendous progress that was made in metrology in Africa the past 20 to 30 years. Having an African leading the CIPM will raise the profile of metrology across the continent. At a practical level it will bring more international visitors to NMISA and the region and will assist the access of regional metrologists to the international metrology system.

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