Public contracting is the main vehicle through which governments deliver commitments to citizens. However, things are not always smooth. Public contracting in many countries is shrouded by secrecy. Secrecy frustrates the ability of citizens to know and track contracts thus other challenges which undermine value for money in public contracting arise- collusion, corruption, unnecessary projects, unplanned contracts, conflicts, project delays and cost escalation among other challenges.


Open contracting- the disclosure of information, citizen monitoring of contracts and feedback from governments is an essential tool to avoid or minimize these challenges.


A recent contracts monitoring report by AFIC in collaboration with the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) funded by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability revealed that:

i.    There is General lack of compliance with disclosure obligations under the PPDA Act and Regulations as well as the Access to Information Act,
ii.    89% of the accessed contracts were not reflected in procurement plans contrary to the law, an indication of diversion of funds as these were not approved in respective procurement plans
iii.    The study also found that a disproportionate number of tenders are awarded through uncompetitive selective bidding with a high risk of abuse of the process.
iv.    In Nebbi district monitoring of contracts revealed that 95% of contract value is awarded through noncompetitive methods and unexplained big difference in contracted sums on facilities with same specifications.
v.    High suspicion of collusion and fraud was also detected based on documents accessed indicating that different companies share physical address, originated documents on similar dates and received by the district on the similar dates. This is further augmented by estimated price in procurement plans and final contracted price in contracts almost matching.

These findings were presented to and validated by respective District Local Governments officials of the districts of Ntungamo, Nebbi and Mityana ahead of finalization of monitoring report. The results are positive:


a)    All 3 districts monitored agreed with findings and agreed to implement recommendations. They requested AFIC and UCM to provide regular monitoring reports and in a tmely basis so that councilors can use them for oversight.
b)    District officials on Nebbi, Ntungamo and Mityana all agreed to ensure that all contracts are reflected in respective procurement plans
c)    Nebbi which had not denied signing of MoU with AFIC immediately committed to review its decision
d)    Mityana which had not availed contracts to AFIC immediately provided 5 copies of contracts.
e)    Based on the findings AFIC has recommended to the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority to institutionalise open contracting by including specific provisions in the PPDA Act.
f)    AFIC has also recokemded to PPDA and Ministry of Finance to prioritise capacity strengthening of districts in order to ensure value for money through open contracting.

By embracing open contracting, governments can gain from feedback from citizens on how well projects are being implemented which can lead to better public contracting outcomes.


Open Contracting is one of the key continental programmes of AFIC. Its Working Group has conducted mapping of open contracting commitments by African governments and elaborated country action plans to promote open contracting in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Malawi.
 In Uganda, work has progressed thanks to funding support of the World Bank’s Global Programme for Social Accountability under the Enhancing Performance and Accountability of Social Service Contracts in Uganda, project. A project implemented by AFIC under the umbrella of the Uganda contracts monitoring coalition. The project aims to enhance transparency and accountability of public contracting in health and education sectors at district level in Uganda. The project’s overarching objective is to increase availability and use of contracting information, improve public participation in contracting processes, and foster collaborative engagement between government and civil society. The project will also provide information to the public sector enhancing fact-based decision-making in public contracting and planning of future procurement.WhatsApp Image 2017-10-30 at 9.59.23 AM

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Realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is important to uplift the quality of life, address inequality and promote environmental sustainability yet all this depends on the ability of citizens to access and use information held by governmental and relevant private bodies.


On the occasion to mark the second edition of the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) is pleased launch the 2017 Report on the State of Right to Information in Africa. The report focuses on the status of SDG 16.10.2 in terms of adoption and implementation of access to information laws, ratification of African Union treaties that recognize citizens’ right of access to information, state reporting to treaty bodies, association the Open Government Partnership, a key multilateral platform through which the right to information can be advanced.


Altogether, 23 African countries were studied: These include: Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, The Gambia, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the rest of the countries where primary data was not collected secondary sources, were used to determine for example, whether such a country had an ATI law, status of state reporting to treaty bodies or ratification of treaties.

 
At national level the report is both a baseline and advocacy tool. As a baseline it will assist states in identifying main areas of achievement in in terms of policy adoption, implementation and reporting. Civil society organisations and citizens will find the report useful in identifying areas that need their advocacy attention.
Organisations like the African Union, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as UNESCO which have specified mandates with following up with and supporting Member States  to realise their obligations will also find useful information for their purposes.


In the context of SDG 16.10.2, the study finds that only 21 (or 39%) out of the 54 countries have made the first step of achieving this important target. The rest, 61% are yet to adopt, later on implement ATI measures as required to meet tis SDG.  Gap, the study finds, exists with ratification and reporting by state parties.


We invite all stakeholders to study this report and implement recommendations.

Please follow these links for:

Summary Report: http://www.africafoicentre.org/index.php/resources/reports-publications/249-summary-report-state-of-sdg-on-rti-in-africa-2017-1/file

Full Report:  http://www.africafoicentre.org/index.php/resources/reports-publications/248-full-report-state-of-rti-in-africa-report-2017-sdg-report-1/file

Realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is important to uplift the quality of life, address inequality and promote environmental sustainability yet all this depends on the ability of citizens to access and use information held by governmental and relevant private bodies.

On the occasion to mark the second edition of the International Day for Universal Access to Information, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) is pleased launch the 2017 Report on the State of Right to Information in Africa. The report focuses on the status of SDG 16.10.2 in terms of adoption and implementation of access to information laws, ratification of African Union treaties that recognize citizens’ right of access to information, state reporting to treaty bodies, association the Open Government Partnership, a key multilateral platform through which the right to information can be advanced.

Altogether, 23 African countries were studied: These include: Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, The Gambia, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the rest of the countries where primary data was not collected secondary sources, were used to determine for example, whether such a country had an ATI law, status of state reporting to treaty bodies or ratification of treaties.  

At national level the report is both a baseline and advocacy tool. As a baseline it will assist states in identifying main areas of achievement in in terms of policy adoption, implementation and reporting. Civil society organisations and citizens will find the report useful in identifying areas that need their advocacy attention.

Organisations like the African Union, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as UNESCO which have specified mandates with following up with and supporting Member States  to realise their obligations will also find useful information for their purposes.

In the context of SDG 16.10.2, the study finds that only 21 (or 39%) out of the 54 countries have made the first step of achieving this important target. The rest, 61% are yet to adopt, later on implement ATI measures as required to meet tis SDG.  Gap, the study finds, exists with ratification and reporting by state parties.

We invite all stakeholders to study this report and implement recommendations.

Please follow these links for:

Summary Report: http://www.africafoicentre.org/index.php/resources/reports-publications/249-summary-report-state-of-sdg-on-rti-in-africa-2017-1/file

Full Report:  http://www.africafoicentre.org/index.php/resources/reports-publications/248-full-report-state-of-rti-in-africa-report-2017-sdg-report-1/file

hOn September 15, 2017, the Ugandan Government Procurement Portal (GPP) was updated to an Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) compliant version. It is now accessible on the following link http://gpp.ppda.go.ug/open-data/

The Government Procurement Portal is a web-based portal on which the Government of Uganda proactively discloses procurement information. Public entities are required to publish information related to procurements ranging from procurement plans, bid notices, Best Evaluated Bidder Notices and awarded contracts.

This achievement is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), the regulator for public procurement and Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), advocating for open access to public procurement information.

The alignment of the GPP offers the users with the possibilities to consult, download and use public procurement information disclosed, from planning to implementation, by procuring entities on the portal.

This collaboration between PPDA and AFIC illustrates the impact of a constructive relationship between government and civil society on accountability issues. AFIC elaborated a case study to capture the good practices of this experience for knowledge sharing about multi-stakeholders’ engagements in the realm of transparency and accountability. It also shows the simplicity of adopting the OCDS in public procurement and provide guidance on each step that would lead other African governments to implement such an international standard.

Implementation of the OCDS will benefit the governments with better opportunities for efficient procurement management, harmonization of public procurement systems across countries and reaching better value for money on public projects and services. The direct impact will be better public services delivery to the citizens.

It is important to note that OCDS alignment of the GPP offers a framework to the public entities to disclose information in more structured open formats, user-friendly and consistent manner. It is still requiring them to comply with data entry in the system. As for now, there is apparent lack of information on some elements of the procurement cycle as this was not being collected. OCDS has helped to identify gaps and the next step towards achieving efficient open contracting in Uganda is to engage public entities to disclose more data in a systematic and timely manner.

This will necessitate capacity building for the public servants responsible for the disclosure of such data as well as strong political will to amend the existing public procurement legislation in a way that disclosure of all OCDS data by procuring entities should be mandatory.  

Check and download the full story about  "A case of constructive engagement with the Ugandan Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority"

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Photo: © 2017 European Union.

 

Ahead of the Africa-European leaders Summit scheduled for November 2017 in Abidjan, the third Africa-EU Civil Society Forum was held in Tunis, Tunisia from July 11-13 2017under the auspices of Joint Africa-Europe Strategy (JAES). The Forum, attended by over 80 participants from Africa and Europe was jointly organized by the Africa -EU Joint Steering Committee and hosted by the Africa Steering Committee with support of both the African Union Commission and the European Union Commission.

In order to enhance the realization of African Union 2063 Agenda and the 2017 EU Communication “For a Renewed Impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership”, the civil society Forum made recommendations in five different area being: conflict prevention, peace building and refugees; democratic governance and civic participation; Human development; decent work, universal social protection and social economic development; and a sustainable future for your planet. Important cross-cutting issues such as migration and mobility, gender equality and youth were mainstreamed in the debates.

Civil society forum adopted a Declaration which among others calls on both the African and the European Commission to:

  1. To increase their political, financial and logistical support for a timely, transparent and inclusive involvement of CSOs, including those representing the diaspora, at all levels of decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the JAES, in an institutional framework that is clearly defined and targeted at this support;
  2. To make sure to organise Joint Annual Fora in close cooperation with all the stakeholders, including civil society representatives, and make sure that these meetings effectively feed into the reflections and choices of decision makers;
  3. To identify and operationalise “entry points” in the Roadmap implementation allowing a better involvement of CSOs and creating, on a case by case basis, dedicated spaces and mechanisms, or opening existing ones to CSO participation.
  4. To increase the flow and quality of information facilitating the preparation of CSOs’ meaningful inputs in the implementation of the Roadmap and all debates around the JAES;
  5. To support with financial means, including by facilitating access to funding, CSOs’ participation and activities, including advocacy and implementation of projects in the frame of the strategy while always respecting their full autonomy;
  6. To initiate, ten years after the launch of the JAES, a stocktaking exercise of achievements and shortcomings. This is a process in which CSOs should play a vital role;
  7. To adopt an actor-based approach to the representation of civil society in the JAES;
  8. To act upon political commitments to create a true enabling environment for civil society participation;
  9. Enhance dialogue between governments and CSOs including youth, women, migrants and refugees, diaspora, workers, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and any other groups left behind, as part of an inclusive multi-stakeholder policy process.

Africa Freedom of Information Centre calls upon leaders of Africa and Europe to study the Declaration of the 3rd CSO Forum and take forwards its recommendations.

HR Dialogue 15Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) welcomes and deeply appreciates both the African Union and the European Union upon the approval of the Mandate and Terms of Reference of the AU-EU Joint CSOs Steering Committee on the AU-EU Partnership on Human Rights and Democratic Governance.

The approval was done during the 12th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) Human Rights Dialogue that took place on 10 January 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. The Dialogue was led by Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, and Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. The AU participants included Hon. Justice Sylvain ORE, President of the AfCHPR; Hon Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson the ACERWC, Hon. Maya Sahli-Fadel, Commissioner of the ACHPR; Mr. Omar Farouq, ECOSOCC as well as staff from the AUC and other AU organs. On the EU side the participants included Amb. Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and on Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security; Ms. Birgitte Markussen, Deputy Managing Director Africa, EEAS, as well as EU staff working on human rights-related issues.

The AU-EU Joint CSO Steering Committee provides an important space and mechanism for participation and influence of both institutions on human rights and democratic governance. The first seminar of the AU-EU Civil Society Seminar on Human Rights and Democratic Governance was in 2009. During the seminars the AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue Civil Society the representatives of African and European CSOs met to debate on the human rights issues present on the African and European continent and to find solutions. The Seminars were organized in Steering Committee who are independent from the AU-EU institutions. In 2009, the human rights challenges which were addressed are freedom of association and torture. In 2010, they were women, peace and security as well as migrant's rights. In 2011, right to housing and elections were discussed. In 2013, freedom of association human rights and land issues as well as security and human rights and the domestic workers Convention. In 2015, the seminar was focused on freedom of expression. During the Seminar discussions, recommendations are presented which are conferred to the AU-EU human rights dialogue.

In approving the Mandate and Terms of Reference of the AU-EU Joint CSOs Steering Committee, the African Union and European Union are making an important step towards realizing a true partnership of citizens of Africa and Europe rather than a partnership of African and European institutions.

Commenting on this development, AFIC’s Head of Secretariat, Gilbert Sendugwa observed that,

“…a proper mandate of CSO Steering Committee guarantees their ability to comment and advise institutions on the situation of human rights and democracy in Africa and Europe which is a step in the right direction”.

AFIC being a member of the Joint Steering Committee recognizes the need for a proper mandate approved by both AU and EU.

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