Regional procurement forum to focus on how technology can be used in fight against corruption

The adoption of technology in the fight against corruption will take centre-stage at the 11th East Africa Procurement Forum slated for Nairobi from November 28 to 30, 2018.

The forum, themed Strengthening Integrity and Accountability in Public Procurement, has set out to discuss key issues affecting the transformation and modernization of the public procurement systems; forging a common front among East African Community member states on the value of public procurement for the promotion of good governance; professionalization of procurement practice through legal mechanisms; and  sustaining public procurement reforms in the national procurement systems with a common strategic framework focusing on improved integrity, accountability, transparency and efficiency through adoption of e-procurement systems.

“Adoption of e-procurement will go a long way in strengthening public procurement systems within the region, with a view to curbing corruption”, Maurice Juma, the Director-General of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), the conference hosts said.

The forum is convened on a rotational basis by the public procurement regulatory institutions within the East African Community (EAC) partner states. Since its inception in 2008, the forum has provided a vital framework for information and experience sharing amongst the participants drawn from the procurement and supply chain management policy makers, regulators, and practitioners in public and private sectors. This year’s forum has dedicated a whole afternoon session on day two to technology and the fight against corruption.

According to the Deloitte Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2018 titled Leadership: Driving innovation and delivering impact, compiled after gathering the views of 504 procurement leaders from 39 countries, representing organisations with a total annual turnover of $5.5 trillion, the digitisation of procurement is helping overcome a number of key challenges. These include market volatility, collaboration and leadership. While key findings discovered that 61 per cent of procurement leaders said they delivered better savings in 2017, 66 per cent predicted that digital technology would be responsible for the biggest changes in supplier management over the next five years. Half said they were using advanced analytics in a bid to help reduce costs.

“A clear shift in procurement focus towards innovation and value requires an acceleration in the pace of change especially in leadership, talent and digital procurement”, the survey says.

It is worth noting that African countries are slowly moving towards e-procurement, with Rwanda being the first one to do so, and many having migrated to the Integrated Financial Management Information System.

“For us to improve public procurement, we will need to strengthen the capacity of the agencies involved and deploy robust ICT systems to seal all the loopholes that might provide fertile breeding grounds for corruption”, Juma added.

In Kenya, PPRA continues to raise awareness on the need for a corruption-free procurement sector. This has been mostly done through consultative forums with procurement stakeholders across the board. Through the e-procurement provision, the process has been eased and hastened while at the same time realized a reduction in human contact mostly associated with corruption. This provides for online tendering in tandem with the advancement of ICT.

Kenya’s CS for Treasury Henry Rotich will open the event that brings together about 300 participants drawn from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The participants will comprise delegates from the public and private sectors, professional bodies, civil society and training institutions, among others.

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