Home Tanzania Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa… Reformers who campaign for the opening of public markets in Africa

Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa… Reformers who campaign for the opening of public markets in Africa


This is part 1 of a 2 part series

Even for residents of countries where corruption has long been rife, revelations about the extent of emergency shopping fraud in countries like Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa have been a shock. They triggered renewed commitments from leaders, especially from South Africa and Kenya, to advance public procurement reforms, joining others who have pledged to more transparency or are modernizing their procurement systems. public procurement through electronic procurement.

Open contracts are an essential element in building a more just, inclusive and equitable economy. With over-reliance on paper and outdated systems, opacity and lack of information continue to undermine the efforts of activists, journalists, observers and disruptors who continue to push for reforms and businesses. that could benefit from a competitive market.

The instructor: Zukiswa Kota (South Africa)

Zukiswa Kota is Program Manager at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM). PSAM promotes social responsibility in Africa with a particular focus on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.

“Meaningful procurement reform must go hand in hand with civil service reform,” Kota said The Africa report. “Both have arguably been slow and long overdue processes,” Kota adds, citing delays in South Africa’s government procurement bill 2020 as an example of the inertia that is dragging down the public procurement landscape in South Africa. Africa’s largest economy. Corruption related to emergency procurement procedures during the pandemic made the need for reform more urgent.

“Some of the work we’ve championed has been to root open government principles in how departments respond to their mandates, including the introduction of open, transparent and responsive systems,” Kota said. “For several years, we have been contributing to the Open Government Partnership job [most recent National Action Plan in which we sought to include open contracting], the Open Budget Survey and the establishment of accessible and transparent budget processes. This was a major “victory” in the sense that it not only showed the possibility of partnerships between civil society and government, but also really made a difference in tax transparency reform.

Open government procurement reforms began in South Africa in 1995 after the fall of apartheid. The Vulekamali website – which publishes budget data relating to various government departments – is one of civil society’s biggest successes to date, Kota says. Other important reforms include:

Major challenges remain, however.

One of the key issues is that opening up public procurement is a threat institutionalized corruption within the establishment. “Procurement is inherently a political beast,” says Kota. “This is probably a significant obstacle in itself and can serve to hinder meaningful progress at the expense of public funds, people’s lives and access to much-needed public services. To some extent, the recent revelations of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry as well as public procurement corruption cases involving high-ranking politicians and officials are an indication that there are some. has many who could benefit from being slow or inefficient.

The digital disruptor: Victor Vincent (Tanzania)

Victor Vincent, 30, is the founder of Zabuni, an app that connects government and private sector entrepreneurs with suppliers across Tanzania.

Information on public procurement was previously spread across multiple platforms and difficult to access. Zabuni fills information gap by providing access to new suppliers government and private sector tenders. More than 4,000 suppliers had registered with Zabuni by the end of April 2021. That number has increased by 50% in the past six months to more than 6,000 suppliers, according to Zabuni founder and CEO Vincent.

Since its creation at the end of 2019, Zabuni published 8,716 tenders. Most of them are in English; a handful is also in Swahili. From 2021, suppliers pay a small contribution for “maintenance”, says Vincent The Africa report.

Over 650 contracting entities use or have used the Zabuni app to search for the right suppliers in the past two years. In 2020, the app started publishing standard data on open contracts with the support of the Dutch foundation HIVOS.

The supplier: Cecilia Kavura (Tanzania)

Cecilia Kavura, 33, works for CK Safety Solutions, a Dar es Salaam-based company that supplies safety materials to the real estate, manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as mining and construction industries. construction.

Cecilia has used digital tools like Zabuni to participate in tenders in her sector. “Zabuni has given me a platform where I can view and apply for different employment contracts,” Kavura said. The Africa report by email. She argues that technology has played a “central role” in helping women integrate into the business and purchasing landscape in Tanzania.

As access opens, challenges remain. Kavura laments that procurement entities do not often provide feedback to suppliers. “Local banks absolutely do not support startups,” says Kavura. “Usually they have very difficult funding requirements. We usually get support from regional banks.

Investigative journalists: Dataphyte (Nigeria)

Dataphyte’s investigations into corruption in the public procurement landscape in Nigeria have forced government agencies to issue retractions and have been the basis of the push for public procurement reform in Nigeria. The Dataphyte Editorial Trust includes a lawyer, an economist, a human rights activist, a lecturer and the director of the Center for Democracy and Development.

Since the launch of emergency purchasing procedures in April 2021, Dataphyte has revealed several explosive irregularities in a number of Nigerian purchasing entities. A Dataphyte investigation revealed inflated prices and nebulous details in a contract to supply masks to a ministry. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources allegedly falsified a published contract worth 325 million naira (about US $ 850,000) on the NOCOPO website following a request for information from Dataphyte, according to the latter. Another investigation by Dataphyte reportedly found that over 1,000 payments made by state-affiliated organizations failed to provide a simple payment description, amounting to 173 billion naira (around 450 million US dollars) of payments between January and April 2020.

Alex Macbeth writes on global public procurement for the Open Contracting Partnership, a US-based organization that promotes open data and transparency in public procurement.