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Procurement made easy in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – Kenya\’s fledgling companies are losing out on the big contracts because they have not fully grasped the rules of tendering.

The Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) has observed that even though the small firms have the capacity to undertake major contracts, they end up being locked out on technicalities.

The authority has now developed a Bidder\’s Guideline to assist such companies launch competitive bids that could help them make their \’big break.\’

"It targets bidders so that they are educated on how to submit responsive bids and we believe that will go a long way in assisting them to participate effectively in procurement," PPOA Director General of Morris Juma said.

Speaking during the opening of the Second East African Public Procurement Forum on Wednesday, Mr Juma said Kenya\’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector lacked the kind of money and know-how that would edge the \’big boys\’ out of the game.

"When you don\’t have the resources it becomes increasingly difficult to finance any investment opportunities that come around," he said.

The forum attracted procurement agencies from East Africa and Southern Sudan and is meant to help these countries integrate their procurement systems in a bid to enhance cross border trade.

World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt called for the strengthening of procurement laws in the region saying too often, government tenders were awarded on a who-knows-who basis rather than competence.

"It very important public procurement follow laws and regulations that ensure efficiency, fairness, reliability and that permit accountability and transparency," he said.

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According to Mr Zutt, sound procurement systems require three key components; the right legal and regulatory framework, institutions that fit into the laws and regulations and above all qualified personnel to run those institutions.

The calls for accountability and transparency were echoed by USAID Mission Director Erna Kerst who said taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.

"Procurement reforms, therefore, are about Kenyans getting value for the money that is collected from them. It would in turn make those charged with using the money plan with best interests of their people in mind,\’ she explained.

Procurement goes high-tech

With the advent of fibre optic technology, USAID is partnering with Kenya to develop an E- Procurement system. Kenya\’s procurement boss said the plan is at an advanced stage.

Mr Juma said the PPOA had also identified bidders to go ahead with putting the system in place.

PPOA also plans to take a hands-on approach in monitoring use of the Constituency Development Fund.

"What the law provides is that different sectors can liaise with PPOA and formulate a sector specific manual. We consider CDF sector specific and we should have that manual operational once we have had wider discussions with stakeholders," Mr Juma said.

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