The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) member states – Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros and Reunion – are a major step closer to pooling procurement for essential goods.
The Seychelles government said a mechanism to facilitate the ICO’s pooled procurement initiative would be in place by the end of the year and would come into effect in 2024.
Ralph Agrippine, permanent liaison officer for the IOC in the foreign affairs ministry, told the state-run Seychelles News Agency that the initiative would help member countries "have better bargaining power with suppliers once it comes into place".
"We are also looking into the possibility of including other African countries close to the IOC," he said.
The agreement will not cover all goods, but rather those deemed “essential”, Agrippine explained.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has been pushing for the initiative as it relies heavily on imported goods and has to pay higher prices for imports, given its relatively small market size.
IOC nations represent a combined population of 30m people and cover exclusive economic zones spanning 5.5m kilometres.
The states believe pooling procurement will help create economies of scale and enhance collective bargaining power, lowering prices and providing access to a greater range of goods and services.
"One thing that would have to be done is to establish a procurement agency which will be tasked with determining what needs to be imported in the region," Agrippine added.
The IOC is looking at a similar mechanism that is in place at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as a possible blueprint for the initiative.
The OECS consists of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines.
Agrippine said the agreement would allow countries to combine to buy in bulk or to receive procurement assistance.
The IOC countries already has an agreement for pooled procurement of medicines and health supplies.
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