Picking lessons from strengthening disclosure and citizen participation in public contracting in Africa: A case of Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria

With support from the William + Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) concluded a project which has achieved significant progress during its implementation in each of the countries. In Kenya, the project successfully mobilized the commitment of the government to implement open contracting in the country’s OGP National Action Plan, proactive disclosure of procurement data on the Public Procurement Information Portal, training of public officials and CSOs on open contracting and its importance as well as building a critical network of actors to promote open contracting.

The project conducted the second mapping of disclosure to examine the extent to which previous recommendations have been implemented and what more is needed to realize OCDS disclosure. In Malawi, the project promoted citizen participation in public contracting, advocated for the government to embrace open contracting, trained key multi-stakeholders- government, business, and CSOs on open contracting and its advantages raised awareness on the created awareness on the need to improve disclosure of contract information based on open contracting Data Standards. A Multistakeholder group to promote the better performance of contracts through open contracting was formed following the training.

In Uganda, the project successfully trained stakeholders on open contracting its value developed open contracting use cases, created dashboards to assist in analyzing data and monitoring of contracts, and built government support for open contracting. In addition, the project facilitated the analysis of data starting with the health sector. Results revealed that there were low levels of disclosure, poor competition for tenders, high levels of inefficiency in procurement processes, and loss of money arising from procurements above the surveyed market price. Findings and recommendations were presented to the Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary who welcomed them and promised to take corrective measures. She ordered for technical staff to disclose procurement data on the Government Procurement Portal. The ministry also requested AFIC to train its staff on how to upload data on GPP. In August 2019, the Government of Uganda launched a framework for CSO monitoring of contracts and at the launch stated that it was inspired by the good work and feedback AFIC had provided to the government to promote contract transparency and accountability.

In Nigeria, the project supported BPP to implement open contracting hosted at NOCOPO, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) to fully implement OCDS as one of the priority sectors indicated by the Government in its commitment to implement OCDS at the London anti-corruption summit in May 2016. At the subnational level in Nigeria, we have supported Kaduna, Ekiti, Kogi, and Abia state to deploy and implement OCDS

At the regional level, AFIC successfully advocated for the five Partner States of the East African Community to adopt a resolution to implement open contracting based on OCDS.

We have learned that stakeholders appreciate the value of open contracting when discussed in the context of how it facilitates better participation and improvement in service delivery rather than the technical structure of disclosure of procurement information which most of the time sounded abstract to stakeholders. Secondly, we have learned that governments work on evidence. Mapping of disclosure, as well as analysis of data based on key indicators, provided compelling information that attracted government attention and action across the project countries. We have also learned that governments across project countries are willing to address challenges in public contracting and appreciate the constructive partnerships with none state actors to address them.

AFIC is a continental leader among organizations promoting the right to information and open contracting by reach and technical expertise. We have a membership of 41 organizations in 22 African countries and partnerships in over 30 countries. This has made it possible to successfully support members and partners advocate for laws or open contracting in respective countries. Within the sphere of promotion of open contracting, we have successfully advocated for open contracting commitments in OGP National Action Plans, trained both CSO and government efforts to improve disclosure and public participation in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria. In addition, AFIC has championed CSO monitoring of public contracts with laudable results.  In the area of knowledge generation and sharing, AFIC has also actively contributed to various fora and platforms in Africa and beyond.

AFIC’s strategic plan seeks to promote access and use of public information in key sectors and thematic areas in order to improve peoples’ lives across the continent.

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