Africa Launch of the CoST International Programme
The CoST International Programme was launched on Thursday 25 October at the Open Contracting Event in Johannesburg.
Over 100 participants heard from H.E. Commissioner Ali Sulaiman, Ethiopian Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Verónica Taracena, Secretary of Control and Transparency in Guatemala as to how CoST had benefited their respective countries. They also reaffirmed their respective Governments commitment to implementing CoST.
Chaired by Chrik Poortman, Chairman CoST Interim Board, the participants heard how the CoST Programme can be adapted to suit the circumstances in each country. In Ethiopia this had led to a cost saving of over $2m on a rural road in Southern Ethiopia whilst the CoST assurance process highlighted the inappropriate use of emergency procedures for selecting a contract in Guatemala. The contract was subsequently terminated.
Fellow speaker, Mr Bafana Ndendwa Chairman, Construction Industry Development Board Republic of South Africa confirmed plans “to build on the international knowledge gained to develop a South African CoST model as part of the effort to promote transparency and fair value in relation to public infrastructure contracts and to clean up the built environment sector.”
South Africa joins their fellow G20 country Mexico in expressing their interest in joining the current eight participating countries.
Organised by GIZ and the World Bank Institute, the Open Contracting Event aimed to frame, profile and position the issue of open contracting in the larger international debate and to develop the agenda and initial focus for the Open Contracting movement.
The Africa Launch followed the UK Launch which was held earlier in the week.
UK Launch of the CoST International Programme
The UK Launch of the CoST International Programme was held in London on Monday 22 October. Around 60 people attended the over-subscribed event, and keynote speakers included Paul Kett, Co-Chair of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group; Geoff French, President of FIDIC; and Jamie Drummond, Executive Director of ONE.
The result was a fascinating mix of perspectives on CoST, coming from the three key areas of government, industry and civil society. The ensuing debate, led by Chair of the CoST Board, Christiaan Poortman, encouraged lively discussion between the panel and the audience.
The overriding message from the event was agreement on the importance of and the need for CoST. The initiative fits with an increasing emphasis on transparency on an international level, and on the positive outcomes that this can deliver. As well as enabling potential savings of up to $2.5trn by 2020, CoST can have a great impact on development too - particularly where the savings can be used to invest in other areas. From an industry point of view, CoST can help to reduce corruption by opening up the processes and making them fully accountable.
There was an appetite from all three sectors to work closely together, to ensure that CoST is embedded within countries, supporting better infrastructure through openness and accountability. Christiaan Poortman said: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with partners across the sectors as CoST moves forward, and as more countries are able to benefit from this important initiative.’
Twelve countries share CoST experiences at workshop
Twenty five participants recently shared experiences, lessons and ideas on establishing and implementing the new CoST programme at the first CoST International Workshop.
Held in the run-up to the Africa Launch of the CoST International Programme in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, the workshop provided representatives from four countries interested in joining CoST (Botswana, Mexico, South Africa and Uganda) to learn from the experiences of the 8 participating countries (Ethiopia, Guatemala, UK, Tanzania, Vietnam, Philippines, Malawi and Zambia).
It also provided an opportunity to discuss the new CoST programme including the information to be proactively disclosed, the different approaches to the assurance process and identifying and overcoming the challenges of the multi-stakeholder approach.
Participants heard from Jaime Montes (Mexico) who introduced an information management system which tracks over 13,000 contracts per annum, and an intelligence software system that analysed the data collated from those contracts.
Bekure Ketema (Ethiopia) demonstrated the potential of a civil society workshop can build demand for the information disclosed by CoST whilst Matt Parker (UK) showed how the UK Government wishes to use the data collated by CoST as part of its National Infrastructure Plan.
In the final ‘peer-review’ session, existing and new CoST countries presented their Country Implementation Plans, detailing objectives, activities and outputs for the next 12 months.
IMC: Proud CoST Supporter
IMC Worldwide Ltd are the latest prestigous company to endorse CoST. They join an increasing number of private sector firms and civil society organisations incluing Balfour Beatty and the ONE Inititative who have committed their support to CoST.
Gavin English, Managing Director, stated that "IMC Worldwide Ltd (IMC) is proud to support the CoST programme which seeks to improve transparency, accountability and value for money in publicly financed construction. As such we actively promote the principles and benefits of CoST to our clients, partners and associates overseas.”
The full list of private sector supporters can be found here.