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22 March 2011 | Angeline Albert
Two-thirds of countries in the CommonMarket for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have modernised
purchasing laws enough to be almost fully compliant with its procurement
Progress made by 13 of the 19 member countries, which was announced at
COMESA’s Technical Committee of Procurement Experts (TCPE) meeting in Malawi last
week, paves the way for a regional purchasing market.
The compliant countries are Malawi, Zambia,
Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia,
Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles. However,
Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Comores, Eritrea, Egypt and Libya have yet to pass
purchasing laws that would make the countries compliant with the
procurement programme began in 1998, and, in 2009, leaders of the 19 member
countries adopted the COMESA procurement directive so that uniform laws and a
modern public procurement system could promote trade in the region.
COMESA secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said: “Visible progress has
been noted in the area of legislative reforms at national level given that a
sizeable number of states have developed new procurement laws and regulations
that were either nearly compliant, or partially compliant, with the COMESA
directive. This should now pave the way for the introduction of the regional
Compliance involves two phases. The first is developing
modern procurement law, including standard bidding documents, the second covers
framework agreements, green procurement and e-purchasing.
As part of phase two, member states must advertise tender
notices on the PROMIS (COMESA procurement information system) platform and
consider all suppliers that submit bids.
Ngwenya said: “Despite the enormity of the procurement reform
challenges, a few member states have posted tender notices on the regional PROMIS system. This was
developed to create awareness of public procurement opportunities in the COMESA
region and very soon there will be a major awareness and advertising campaign
designed to inform the private sector and suppliers in the region about
Comprised of the heads of national procurement agencies, TCPE aims to
push countries into implementing the regulations. One issue being debated is
under what circumstances members give suppliers in the COMESA region priority over
those outside it.
Mangeni, director of Trade Customs and Monetary Affairs at Comesa, said: “When we meet the countries’ ministries of trade this October
we will find out how Zimbabwe, Swaziland and the others have progressed.”