According to Ghana’s Public Procurement Authority (PPA), public procurement accounts for about 29% of imports into the country. Ghana has a fairly robust legislative framework for public procurement. However, lack of enforcement of procurement laws and regulations has led to myriad procurement-related corruption, costing the nation millions of Ghana cedis. The country has a very active civil society (including the Media), but the dearth of public contracting information means that there is very little to work within uncovering corruption within procurement. The corruption cases that have been uncovered in procurement have come as a result of painstaking and expensive investigative journalism work.
In June 2018, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, with support from Hewlett and Flora Foundation and in partnership with Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) started implementing the strengthening disclosure and citizen participation to improve value for money in public contracting in Africa project to promote overall transparency in public procurement. Unlike other countries’ experience where the relationship between state institutions and CSOs is not strong, this project has been able to strengthen the relationship between GACC and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to work closely to improve procurement data on the PPA website. The commitment of officials of the PPA was very vital to achieving results.
As part of this intervention, GACC in collaboration with AFIC conducted an assessment of procurement data on the PPA website. The data available was found to be scanty and difficult to download for further analysis. A mapping report outlining the gaps identified and recommendations for addressing the gaps was discussed with the PPA. The PPA responded that it was working on a new procurement system and has therefore considered the recommendations, especially the issues of Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS).
On April 30, 2019, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) launched a new electronic procurement system known as the Ghana Electronic Procurement System (GHANEPS) [https://www.ghaneps.gov.gh/epps/home.do], designed in OCDS format. The system is currently being piloted with 5 institutions. The first phase of the project, involving five government agencies being piloted, has already started, while the second phase –which will include all 34 of the country’s ministries, as well as public universities and metropolitan assemblies will begin at the end of June. The roll-out will continue until the end of 2020. When fully operational, the system will hold OCDS-compliant procurement data on all public institutions. The system will also allow for procurement and public contracting to be done online, reducing the human interface that is so auspicious for corruption.
With such a transparency mechanism in place, Ghana which has already been trending fairly well in the corruption perception index at a score of 41/100, there is hope that the West African country is likely to be much more accountable and able to deliver services to the people effectively. In his own words, Ghana’s vice president, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, said at the launch that the e-procurement system will allow the public to track any tender application in real-time confirming the importance of such an initiative.