KAMPALA– Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) are pleased to launch a report, “OGP in Africa: Opportunities for Open Contracting”, The report presents an analysis of the extent to which Open Contracting and Open Budgets are included in respective National Action Plans (NAPs) of African Open Government Partnership countries.
Public contracting is the main mechanism through which governments provide goods and services to their citizens. Annually, governments around the world spend approximately US 9.5 trillion on public contracts. Yet, in many countries, information on these contracts is not publicly available and cannot be scrutinized by civil society or other stakeholders. This lack of transparency leads to decreased accountability of governments and increases the likelihood of mismanagement, malpractices, fraud, and corruption.
In Africa, construction of roads, power dams, railway and other infrastructure is going on in almost every country. A key feature of these projects is wide discrepancy in costs between them and in all cases above international average rates. Public contracting has also been associated with conflicts, cost escalation, delays among other issues which affect value for money. In Uganda for example, a report by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority revealed that 99.3% of contracts overshot planned budget while the Inspector General of Government reported that 71% of contracts were not completed on time.
The Open Contracting Community argue that increasing citizens access to information and participation in public contracting or open contracting performance of contracts and value for money can be improved. Open contracting Global Principles have been elaborated to guide the process of promoting contract transparency and citizen participation.
This report by AFIC and PPDC concluded whereas the Open Government Partnership that none of Africa’s OGP members mention Open Contracting in their NAP. Although a number of these countries have made commitments and great strive on Open Budgets, participatory mechanisms are still lacking. In addition, no international data standards on disclosed data (be it contracts, budget data, or otherwise) are mentioned at all. AFIC and PPDC recommend the immediate adoption of open contracting in OGP country action plans. Advocacy and technical assistance for country stakeholders may be considered.
Read the full report here.