African buyers can be 'catalyst for growth'

Adam Leach is a freelance business journalist
31 May 2013

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Public sector purchasers in Africa should focus more on the contribution they can make to their nations’ economies through strategic spending, according to a senior bank official. 

Speaking at the CIPS Pan African Conference in Accra, Ghana last week, Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, deputy governor of the Bank of Zambia, told delegates they had the power to make a significant contribution to economic growth. She highlighted the potential for procurement to improve the fortunes of local industry and in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises.

To do this, she urged buyers to take a more strategic view of their roles and procurement as a whole. Addressing the audience she said: “You need to approach your responsibilities as a strategic function.”

She also called for a stronger focus on the third sector within procurement strategies: “Governments should have initiatives for civil society in public procurement as a way of enhancing transparency and increasing participation.”

Kankasa-Mabula identified government contracts as the “biggest business” in most African countries. This reality, in her view, gives procurement the potential to be a “catalyst for growth”.

Giving her view on the challenges of procurement reform she picked out corruption and fraud, inadequate staff capacity, and limited capacity of local suppliers. Shortcomings in legal and regulatory frameworks and frequent staff transfers or resignations as a result of an unclear career path for procurement were also highlighted.

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