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WB warns over increased graft avenues

KAMPALA, Uganda, Jun 2 – The World Bank is raising concerns that the enormous investment opportunities in Africa, touted as the next frontier for economic growth, also come with increased avenues for corruption and misappropriation of funds.

According to the World Bank Institute, a lot of concessions and large contracts worth billions of dollars are being awarded, a scenario that calls for citizens, civil society groups and other stakeholders to closely monitoring their countries\’ procurement processes.

"When contracts are monitored, citizens can hold their governments accountable for how money is spent and can raise questions when results are not delivered," explained the Institute\’s Senior Public Sector Specialist Sahr Kpundeh at the opening of the East Africa Contract Monitoring workshop in Kampala.

"Without this involvement in the award and implementation of contracts, how resources are developed and or how revenues are spent, African countries can expect poor development outcomes for the society," he warned.

Fair and transparent procurement processes are especially crucial in fields such as the construction, pharmaceutical and in the extractives (minerals) sectors.

The extractive industry in the continent is estimated to be worth trillions of shillings and it attracts investments of large value.

For example, companies like Tullow Oil, Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation are expected to inject Sh850 billion ($10billion) to set up a refinery to process the recently discovered oil and gas in Uganda. This is in addition to the Sh85billion ($1billion) that has already gone into exploration activities.

With such investments and a huge potential to drive millions of people out of poverty, it therefore becomes critical that transparency and accountability issues are addressed so that such countries and their citizens can benefit from their resources.

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The recognition of the need to close these gaps has prompted the Bank in partnership with different regions in Africa to develop an initiative that aims to improve transparency and accountability in public procurement processes.

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Mr Kpundeh said the program further involves creating contract monitoring \’coalitions\’ that the Bank believes can contribute in curbing corruption and ultimately improve public sector efficiency and delivery of services.

The East African meeting brought together all stakeholders involved in all stages of procurement processes as well as civil society activists and media that can help monitor contracts and effectively hold the government accountable and ensure sustainable development of their countries.

With insights and lessons drawn from the West African coalition, the Bank hopes to strengthen the technical capacities of these groups to address specific contract and procurement challenges.

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