Five ways procurement professionals can boost socio-economic development

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
24 September 2014

Procurement professionals in Africa must be ready to use their role to improve society and the economic prosperity of their nations.

In a speech in Nigeria at the start of this month, Babs Omotowa, managing director and CEO of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas – a procurement professional himself - said as the profession’s status improves in both the public and private sectors, it is critical to use this influence and power for positive ends.

These principles could not just apply to those in Africa, but in other developing and developed nations, he added. His five key ways to make a difference were:

1. Ensure value for money. With spending power limited for many African nations, the importance of making the most of budgets and buying on whole life cost is vital. “The procurement function must be involved right from the defining of the need and specification as lots of value is lost if procurement is involved late,” he said.

2. Develop local capacity and employment. “Affirmative action by the procurement profession is important to ensure that local capacities are created and developed, especially considering the several millions of people in developing nations that are still unemployed,” Omotowa advised.

3. Drive innovation. Procurement is in a great position to develop new ideas, because of its close relationships with suppliers.

4. Be role models of ethics and transparency. “Far too often, we witness massive cost overruns, outright fraud, and the absence of oversight and accountability. In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition. In others, award committee members double as contractors!” Omotowa said. Procurement should expose and address ethical breaches in the supply chain, and develop systems to prevent them.

5. Ensure sustainability. Procurement should encourage and support improvements in environmental, social and economic sustainability. But Omotowa cautioned: “There should be a balance between economic/social development, environmental protection and business needs.”

Babs Omotowa will be speaking on the topic of the CEO and CPO working in partnership at the CIPS Annual Conference in London on 2 October. Click here to book your ticket

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