Poor governance poses a major obstacle to Africa’s development and provision of social services. The lack of appropriate checks and balances, citizen voice and participation triggers widespread bureaucratic, political, and grand corruption. Public contracting, one of the key areas where the public and private sector interface financially, is a prime candidate for collusion, cronyism, as well as outright bribery.
Corruption in public procurement and contracting manifests itself in unnecessary projects, substandard and unnecessarily expensive work, the diversion of resources, and unjustified or unexpected price increases resulting into inequity and inequality. In the absence of appropriate accountability mechanisms in this strategic area, ghost projects will be funded, poor quality roads, schools and hospitals will be built, while essential medicines and services will not be delivered.
Since 2011 AFIC has worked with public, private and civil society actors in Africa promoting the enhancement of disclosure (access to information) and citizen participation in all stages of public contracting with the ultimate objective of increasing value for money in public contracts. During the launch of the Ugandan process on June 11, 2012, the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, Mr. Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye rightly observed that this initiative will enable public contracts produce “value for many”. This initiative is part of a regional multi-stakeholder contracts monitoring programme supported by the World Bank Group.
Access to information being at the heart of contract monitoring and based on its experience in facilitating coalition building, AFIC is providing technical support to the multi-stakeholder contracts monitoring coalition in Uganda and the region. In June 2013 AFIC was one of the 17 participants who participated in a Book Sprint organized by the World Bank which produced Open Contracting Guide for Practitioners. Following the finalization of the Guide AFIC promoted its application in Uganda.
AFIC convenes the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition which focuses on promoting open contracting in seven thematic areas priorities: Education, health, extractives, water and environment, agriculture and public works. Funding for scaling up this initiative in the region is being sought. It is AFIC’s vision that open contracting becomes an integral part of the work of all its members.