I spent last week meeting and greeting some the most senior procurement people in the Zambian mining industry.
It’s been an eye-opening experience, providing substantial insight into the purchasing profession in Africa.
A theme that dominated most of my discussions with Zambian buyers was the numerous and serious challenges they face.
Everyday purchasers in the country battle with corruption, developing sustainable relationships with suppliers and securing recognition – to name just a few. What sets them apart is the passion and vigour with which they tackle these issues.
My guide for the trip and new companion Daniel Kabamba - a buyer for Mopani Copper Mines - talks of little else, he is superb ambassador for the profession in Zambia and indeed CIPS. Daniel says he finds the inspiration for purchasing reform in the pages of Supply Management magazine, which is rather flattering, but there is a thirst for change here that reaches far beyond anything we report.
The Zambian Institute for Purchasing and Supply (ZIPS) has helped garner the highest population of CIPS members outside of the UK. ZIPS president Abraham Mutakila is well versed in lobbying the government and has brought about real change in Zambian laws.
To give you an example, by law only a qualified CIPS member is allowed to head up a procurement function in Zambia, even if it is a private sector organisation. This power does not exist in Europe.
Over the next few days, I will be learning about many of the procurement challenges that face other countries in Africa - and will keep you posted. I’m sure I will encounter similar passion for change and improvement.