CoST Africa Regional Workshop
A CoST Africa Regional Workshop was held in Kampala, Uganda recently. It was facilitated by the CoST International Secretariat and attended by 25 participants, including 11 representatives from Uganda, 13 regional representatives from Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia and 1 representative from Afghanistan.
The aim of the workshop was to facilitate knowledge sharing and lesson learning amongst CoST countries. Over 2 days, the participants explored various topics which were crucial to the implementation of their national programmes. This included interactive sessions and active discussion on ways to strengthen multi-stakeholder working and government capacities to disclose information, as well as ways to institutionalise and scale-up disclosure and build demand for the disclosed information. Monitoring and evaluation of CoST programmes was also introduced.
For the very first time, Roads Authorities’ representatives from CoST countries were invited to participate in a CoST Workshop. These representatives were able to share insights into the incentives and barriers to their participation in CoST and as a result, participants are now better equipped to develop strategies for engaging governments in their national programmes. From this event, the representatives from the Roads Authorities also committed to supporting and promoting CoST within their respective agencies.
The workshop was made possible through the efforts and support of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and funding from the African Development Bank. CoST Malawi Chair, Joe Ching’ani said “We congratulate UNRA on becoming the first African country to join CoST since the launch of the Global Programme. We look forward to supporting UNRA in the implementation of their CoST programme.”
CoST Africa Multi-stakeholder Forum
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) hosted a multi-stakeholder forum on Friday 28th March at the in Kampala. The purpose of the event was to engage with the various stakeholder groups and present CoST Uganda’s preliminary implementation plan.
The Minister of Works and Transport Hon Abraham Byandala opened the event with a strong statement of support, “We believe that CoST will lead to better quality roads and improve value for public money. In addition to delivering better outcomes for citizens and communities in Uganda, CoST will deliver benefits to the government and private sector.”
10 road projects have been identified for early stage participation in the CoST Uganda programme, with the intention of scaling up the programme to include more projects and also other government agencies. The Minister said “The government of Uganda fully supports the implementation of CoST, not only in UNRA but across all public infrastructure agencies in Uganda”.
The event was attended by representatives from the public and private sectors, civil society organisations and donor institutions, including the Ministry of Works, Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority, UNRA, Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition, Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers, Adam Smith International, African Development Bank and the World Bank. In addition, the event was also attended by representatives from the CoST International Secretariat, 13 regional representatives from CoST Africa countries and 1 representative from Afghanistan.
John Hawkins from the CoST International Secretariat said, “CoST is part of a global transparency movement that aims to reduce mismanagement and corruption in public construction. We welcome UNRA to the cost family and look forward to supporting their programme.”
Mandatory Requirement for Disclosure on PPPAA portal in Ethiopia
CoST Ethiopia has made good progress towards institutionalising CoST disclosure requirements in a series of Proclamations, Regulations and Directives, including the Ethiopian Federal Government Procurement and Property Administration Proclamation No.649/2009 and the Federal Public Procurement Directive 2010.
The Public Procurement and Property Administration Agency (PPPAA) recently launched its newly designed web portal which requires mandatory disclosure of contract and project information by all public procuring entities. According to the PPPAA, any works procurement equal or greater than Br10 million must be disclosed on the site within 5 days of contract award.
CoST Ethiopia has also been delivering capacity building workshops and training programmes to procuring entities to enable effective disclosure and competent application of the web portal. Training has been given to 14 procuring entities and 4 oversight agencies so far. As a result of this effort 8 procuring entities have agreed to sign Memorandums of Understanding with CoST Ethiopia to formalise their commitment to disclosure.
CoST Ethiopia has also been stepping up its efforts to raise the profile of CoST in Ethiopia. It recently participated in a 5 day exhibition organised by Grade One Contractors Association to increase the visibility of CoST and promote the programme to wider audiences. The exhibition was seen by tens of thousands of people.
CoST Ethiopia has also been working closely with EITI Ethiopia, playing a key role in demonstrating that multi-stakeholder approaches can work in Ethiopia. Their combined efforts led to the successful admission of Ethiopia as an EITI candidate in March.
CoST disclosure requirements included in proposed Malawi procurement reforms
The Office of the Director of Procurement in the Government of Malawi has included the CoST disclosure requirements as part of a package of amendments to the Public Procurement Act. The amendments are currently being considered by the Minister of Justice and are likely to be put before Parliament in September.
The announcement was made last week at a CoST Malawi Policy Makers dinner in Lilongwe. The dinner was attended by 20 key officials within the Malawi Government including Rexie Chiluzi Permanent Secretary for Works and Transport and Cliff. K. Chinunda, Secretary of Projects and Programmes in the Office of the President along with Members of the CoST Malawi Multi-Stakeholder Group.
CoST Malawi MSG Chair, Joe Ching’ani said ‘the MSG is excited by the proposed amendments to the Procurement Act. It will lead to greater transparency within our construction sector and improve the quality of infrastructure for all Malawians. The dinner has also successfully raised the profile of the CoST Malawi programme within the Government.’
Botswana gears up to join CoST
Over 100 participants recently attended the first CoST Workshop in Botswana. Organised by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), the event concluded with broad agreement amongst the participants that Botswana should consider joining CoST.
Opening the event, Ms. Bridget P. John, Executive Chairperson PPADB said ‘Botswana is faced with poorly designed construction projects, inadequate supervision and time and cost overruns. Very few projects meet their stated objectives. This has led to PPADB to organise this event and ask stakeholders if CoST is something Botswana should take forward.’
During a Panel discussion, Mr. Leta Mosienyane, President of Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry & Manpower (BOCCIM), said ‘Botswana should adopt and adapt CoST to suit our context. Our procurement legislation is the strongest in the region but we need to disclose information prior to tendering at the drawing of the National Development Plans and budget stages. This is because the problems often arise during the early stages of project identification and preparation’.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure (MIST), Mr. Dikagiso B. Mokotedi emphasised that this CoST workshop could not have come at a better time, considering that his ministry has recently set up a Construction Registration Board, which is currently drafting its regulations and therefore the knowledge gained from the workshop will inform the Regulations.
Ms. Rose Seretse, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was equally supportive. She said ‘CoST can help to deter corruption as officials will be aware that the information they hold may well be disclosed to the public. It will also help to reduce litigation as the information that is currently only disclosed through a judicial process will have to be released to the contractors and consultants.’
Prior to the Panel discussion, John Hawkins Programme Manager CoST International Secretariat provided an overview of the key feature of a national programme whilst Joe Ching’ani, CoST Malawi MSG Chair, shared the experiences and lessons from implementing CoST in Malawi. The participants also heard from Ms. Masingoaneng Ramodimoosi, Board Secretary and Legal Advisor PPADB about the current legal disclosure requirements contained in the Public Procurement Act in Botswana.
Ms. Dudu D. Thebe, Manager-Works (PPADB) who directed the workshop underscored in her wrap-up remarks that there certainly would be need for another workshop or meeting soon, in order to further develop the proposals that were made.
CoST can improve integrity in Sports Events
CoST could be part of the solution to the risks in infrastructure development for major sporting events. This was a key message at a recent OECD meeting in Paris on integrity in sports and other major events.
This message was well received, especially by Stefano Mogin, Co-Chair of the G20 Anti-Corruption Panel, and Janos Bertok, Head of the Public Sector Integrity Division of OECD. There will be further sessions to refine what OECD should do in this area, and they expressed their hope that CoST would be involved.
The meeting was opened by Transparency International Managing Director Cobus de Swardt, who declared passionately that something must be done about the corruption surrounding international sport, before this “vital social good” was destroyed. Transparency International is to publish a set of guidelines on major sporting events later this year, and CoST will be consulted on the infrastructure aspect.
Francois Moriniere, General Director of L’Equipe, moved the focus onto corruption in the awarding of sporting events and also match-fixing; but Patrick Moulette, head of the OECD Anti-Corruption Division, brought the meeting back to corruption in and around the preparation of events, and made the point that companies can do a great deal through having proper anti-corruption systems in place. OECD Legal Director Nicola Bonucci summed up the morning, highlighting the fact that the OECD will now have to work out where they can make a difference.
Representing CoST at the event was Senior Industry Advisor, Graham Hand. Graham said ‘This was good general exposure for CoST, and we hope to continue to be involved where the focus is relevant to CoST. It may be that CoST will be recommended as part of an eventual toolkit for countries undertaking very large sporting and other events.’
PhilGeps achieves financial sustainability
The Philippine Government’s Electronic Procurement System PhilGeps is close to achieving financial sustainability. This important milestone formed part of the PhilGeps Business Plan that was developed in collaboration with the CoST Philippines Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG).
Officials at PhilGeps report that the system currently has more than 18,000 fee paying registered users. Revenue from fees was ₱42m in the last financial year, whilst the operating costs were approximately ₱50m.
Commenting on this development, CoST MSG Chair Vincent Lazatin said: “The PhilGeps system is an essential platform for the disclosure of information and we are very pleased that we were able to help our colleagues at PhilGeps meet this important objective. We are now working with them to modernise the system and are planning new features that will enable stakeholders to comment on the information that is disclosed.”
The principal users of PhilGeps are contractors and consultants who use it to access business opportunities. Petter Matthews, Director of the CoST International Secretariat said: “Users don’t mind paying a fee as long as they receive a good service. And importantly, their contributions help ensure that no fee is payable by those who just want to use the system to obtain information disclosed through CoST.”
CoST Guidance Notes now also available in Spanish
CoST Guidance Notes are now also available in Spanish and ready to download from the CoST website.