In this issue, SmartProcurementNews is pleased to share a recent report on the use of electronic government procurement (e-GP) systems in Africa – Fulfilling the Promise of eProcurement reform – Lessons from 5 African Countries – the lead authors of which are Edwin Muhumuza and Lindsey Marchessault from Uganda-based Open Contracting Partnership.
Public procurement — especially manual, paper-based public procurement — has a reputation of inefficiency, corruption, and waste. It is where money, power and discretion come together in government, making it government’s number one corruption risk. Digitisation of the whole procurement process, often through an overarching e-GP system that can manage the many transactions involved across the procurement process, holds out the promise of delivering a transformational change in the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of procurement.
New research, shortly to be published by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, projects that the return on investment for a smaller economy could be of the order of 8 – 58 times, if done comprehensively.
Yet, over the last few years across Africa, many governments have struggled to procure, build, and institutionalise electronic government procurement systems, despite tens of millions of dollars in headline Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms from donors, including the World Bank.
This report spoke directly to those at the forefront of these reforms across Africa focussing on five countries – Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia – to distil key lessons, recommendations and tools that can help e-GP implementation teams and their development partners to deliver successful and transformational e-GP reform projects.
The report finds that there are a number of key factors that contribute to the success of e-GP reforms in Africa. These include:
- Strong political will and commitment from senior government officials
- A clear and well-defined reform strategy
- Adequate funding and resources
- A well-trained and skilled workforce
- A supportive legal and regulatory environment
- Strong partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society
The report also identifies a number of common challenges that e-GP reform projects face in Africa. These include:
- Lack of political will and commitment
- Lack of funding and resources
- Lack of a clear and well-defined reform strategy
- Lack of a well-trained and skilled workforce
- Lack of a supportive legal and regulatory environment
- Lack of strong partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society
The report concludes by providing a number of recommendations for how to overcome these challenges and ensure the success of e-GP reforms in Africa. These recommendations include:
- Building strong political will and commitment from senior government officials
- Developing a clear and well-defined reform strategy
- Securing adequate funding and resources
- Training a well-trained and skilled workforce
- Creating a supportive legal and regulatory environment
- Building strong partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society
The report is a valuable resource for those involved in e-GP reforms and anti-corruption measures in Africa. It provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities associated with these reforms, as well as a number of practical recommendations for how to overcome the challenges and achieve success.