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African round robin of cement testing laboratories

Nods of appreciation at the construction site and closer looks at bricks: More than 30 African cement experts were impressed by the cutting-edge cement mix facility at a construction site in Cameroonian Yaoundé. Later, the group of experts visited a brick factory belonging to the Cameroonian Mission for the Promotion of Local Materials (MIPROMALO). This excursion was part of the final workshop of a Pan-African Cement Proficiency Testing Scheme (PACE-PTS) which was supported by the German BAM (Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing) and by PTB.

Proficiency testing is a quality assurance tool which laboratories use so they can test their methods by means of certain test procedures on the basis of preset criteria. The results allow them to demonstrate their suitability to potential customers or take measures to improve their achievements. That a need for such a tool for cement in Africa exists can clearly be seen by the number of participants: A total of 55 laboratories from 20 African countries submitted their results. The number of participants even increased in comparison to the two previous rounds. Beyond that, the cement industry is booming in many African countries due to an economic boom in the construction sector. Because of that, competent testing laboratories which can guarantee product safety are that much more important.

The final workshop provided its participants with an excellent opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions with other laboratories. The network that was formed there also allows the experts to communicate the newest scientific advancements to each other. In addition to the excursion, the participants critically discussed the results of the round robin, provided contributions for a scientific symposium, attended practical training and drafted a plan to give the round robin a solid foundation. In order to guarantee the sustainability of the round robin, laboratories from the circle of participants should be identified which can carry out the round robin on their own for the long-term. As a first step, some laboratories volunteered to be responsible for parts of the round robin – such as for mailing the samples for the next round.