News from the IPSA/CIPS Pan Africa conference

28 May 2009
As I type the IPSA/CIPS Pan Africa conference has just wrapped up for another year. The theme was “procurement in the global marketplace - gaining a competitive advantage” and there were some interesting, outward looking presentations from a diverse range of speakers. The emphasis was on how buyers in Africa can look to use global sourcing and other leading procurement techniques to their advantage in a tough economic climate. Some personal highlights included CIPS director of international development Chris Gallagher’s rallying call to make 2010 the “year of the CPO”, and Sony’s senior vice president of operations Patrick Inskip with a brilliant insight into the supply chain operations for the hugely popular gaming console PlayStation. Other notable contributions came from Kobus van der Wath, MD of consultancy the Beijing Axis who gave delegates a consummate overview of sourcing in China. There was also an impassioned presentation on fighting “white collar corruption” from Andre Bouwer, MD of fraud investigator Nexus Forensic Services. As predicted in my blog on Tuesday, the delegates responded with similar zeal and thirst for further information. This was evident whenever the floor was thrown open for questions. I have also spent time interviewing most of the CIPS African branch chairs, inviting them to share with me procurement’s biggest challenges, frustrations and successes in their country. It was remarkable how the same themes kept reappearing . To give you an example, many of the chairs spoke angrily about unqualified buyers “hijacking” procurement to make a quick buck through corruption, creating an unwanted reputation for the profession. I next travel to Namibia, where I am told the purchasing profession is in its infancy. It will be fascinating to see how buyers in the country compare with those I have already met and if they share similar issues. Needless to say, I will keep you informed.
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