Public procurement is a linchpin for good governance and effective public service delivery, both of which are critical to the sustainable development of Africa. In many countries throughout the region, strengthening procurement to address weaknesses in public sector governance has become a priority.
E-procurement has proven itself to be one of the more effective and efficient tools for bringing good governance to the procurement process. In order to improve public sector governance and move beyond traditional, paper-based procurement, many countries in Africa are adopting E-Procurement systems.
These systems will improve country governments’ ability to generate data and analyse performance in capital budget spending in real time. That is why the World Bank is currently providing financial and technical support for E-Procurement initiatives in several African countries including Botswana, Rwanda, Mauritius, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Open Contracting Data Standard makes sharing interoperable data easier and more efficient, and improves the effectiveness of E-procurement systems. As a tool for structuring, linking, and publishing documents and data related to the planning, procurement, and implementation of public contracting, the standard assists stakeholders achieve value for money in procurement, detect fraud and corruption, gain market intelligence, and monitor service delivery.
This technical standard provides a ready-made approach to sharing data effectively, allowing the publisher to focus on content, completeness, and quality, and dramatically lowers the cost of producing, using, comparing, and integrating data.
Once data is standard compliant, technology tools and services can use the information easily and reliably. That is why the World Bank is committed to helping clients make the most out of their transition to E-procurement, and as part of that effort, is supporting the adoption of Open Contracting methodologies in the design of these systems.
For example, in Zambia, the Public Integrity and Openness Department of the World Bank (PIO) and the Open Contracting team are working together to ensure that the technical specifications for the E-Procurement system will enable the publication of open data in accordance with the Open Contracting Data Standard. A similar approach will be followed for the E-Procurement systems in other countries throughout the region.
The PIO Africa team and the Open Contracting team plan to work with both government and non-government stakeholders to design E-Procurement systems, data analytics, and visualization tools that will support the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of public contracting down to the local context.
This will enable the improvement of transparency and accountability, but also generate data that will be ‘mined’ using ‘big data’ analytics to facilitate citizen engagement in contract monitoring, and ‘evidence-based’ decision making on procurement policies and system reforms.
The outcome of the PIO Africa team and Open Contracting team collaboration in African countries will be scaled up through engagements with other clients in the region and beyond. As these projects move forward, the World Bank will share knowledge and good practices to ensure that clients benefit from the most innovative solutions in procurement.