COMESA countries make compliance progress

22 March 2011
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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 directive.

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 directive.       

COMESA’s 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 procurement market.”

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 procurement opportunities.”

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.

Francis 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.”

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