18 September 2009 | Allie Anderson
Procurement professionals in Africa are confident corruption will decline in the next 12 months, research by SM reveals.
Over half of nearly 200 purchasers in 31 African countries thought fraud levels would drop over the next year, despite almost 91 per cent believing procurement corruption exists on a significant or moderate scale.
Most respondents believed stronger enforcement of legislation, in particular public procurement laws, would be a catalyst for improvement. Many said their governments were cracking down and there was greater awareness of procurement regulations.
Many thought better trained buyers would help stamp out corrupt practices. Wilfred Malawo, procurement officer at SOS Children's Village of Zambia Trust said the issue is climbing up the Zambian political agenda, with legal action in some high-profile corruption cases.
Phoebe Kung'u, regional supply manager for Oxfam in Nairobi, said an all-encompassing approach was needed to beat corruption. This means increasing transparency and accountability through legislation, training and information sharing. "The media is key in sending anti-corruption messages," she added.
But over 45 per cent of the respondents did not expect to see any improvement. One Nigerian buyer said: "I expect it to worsen, irrespective of the establishment of agencies and the promulgation of the Public Procurement Act."
He added that governments have been paying "lip service" to empowering agencies that fight procurement corruption.