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An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo

As part of a new series on procurement in Africa, together with Open Contracting Partnership, we have profiled some of the pioneers pushing open data and participation in public contracting. In this first part of a two-part series, we feature some of the key figures advocating for a more transparent and participatory procurement ecosystem in South Africa, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series 

Even for people in countries where corruption has long been widespread, the revelations on the extent of fraud in emergency procurement in countries like Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa have come as a shock. They triggered renewed commitments by leaders including from South Africa and Kenya to advance procurement reforms joining others who have commited to more transparency or are modernizing their public procurement systems through e-procurement.

Open contracting is a critical element to building a more just, inclusive and equitable economy. With an over-reliance on paper-based and outdated systems, opacity and a lack of information continue to undermine the efforts of activists, journalists, monitors and disruptors who continue to push for reforms and businesses who could benefit from a competitive marketplace.

The monitor: Zukiswa Kota (South Africa)

Zukiswa Kota is a Programme Head at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM). The PSAM promotes social accountability in Africa with a particular focus on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.

“Meaningful reform in procurement has to be matched by public service reform,” Kota tells The Africa Report. “Both have been arguably slow, long-awaited processes,” adds Kota, citing delays to the 2020 Procurement Bill in South Africa as an example of the inertia holding back the procurement landscape in Africa’s largest economy. Corruption linked to emergency procurement procedures during the pandemic has added urgency to the need for reform.

“Some of the work we’ve championed has involved entrenching open government principles in the way departments respond to their mandates – including introducing open, transparent and responsive systems,” says Kota.  “For several years, we’ve contributed to the Open Government Partnership work [most recent National Action Plan in which we sought to include open contracting], the Open Budget Survey and entrenching accessible, transparent budget processes. This has been a major ‘win’ in the sense that it has shown not only the possibility of civil society–government partnerships, but also really made a difference in fiscal transparency reform.”

Open procurement reforms began in South Africa in 1995 after the fall of apartheid. The website Vulekamali – which publishes budget data related to various government departments – is one of civil society’s biggest successes to date, says Kota. Other important reforms include:

Major challenges remain, however.

One of the key issues is that opening up procurement represents a threat to institutionalised corruption within the establishment. “Procurement is by its nature a political beast,” says Kota. “This is likely a significant barrier all on its own and may serve to hinder meaningful progress at the expense of public funds, people’s lives and access to much needed public services. To some extent – recent revelations from the State Capture Commission of Enquiry as well as procurement corruption cases involving high ranking politicians and public officials is an indication that there are many who stand to benefit from slow or ineffective.”

The digital disruptor: Victor Vincent (Tanzania)

Victor Vincent, 30, is the founder of Zabuni, an app that links government and private sector contractors with suppliers throughout Tanzania.

Information about government procurement was previously spread across several platforms and hard to access. Zabuni fills the information gap by providing new suppliers with access to government and private sector tenders. More than 4,000 suppliers had registered with Zabuni as of late April 2021. That number has grown 50% in the last six months to more than 6,000 suppliers, according to Zabuni’s founder and CEO Vincent.

Since its inception in late 2019, Zabuni has published 8716 tenders. Most of these are in English; a handful are also in Swahili. As of 2021, suppliers pay a small “maintenance” membership fee, Vincent tells The Africa Report.

More than 650 procurement entities use or have used the Zabuni app to search for the right suppliers in the last two years. In 2020, the app started publishing Open Contracting Standard Data with support from Dutch foundation HIVOS.

The supplier: Cecilia Kavura (Tanzania)

Cecilia Kavura, 33, works for CK Safety Solutions, a company based in Dar es Salaam that supplies safety materials in real estate, manufacturing, oil and gas, and the mining and construction industries.

Cecilia has used digital tools like Zabuni to compete for tenders in her sector. “Zabuni has given me a platform where I can view and apply for different job contracts,” Kavura tells The Africa Report by email. She argues that technology has played a “pivotal role” in helping women integrate into the business and procurement landscapes in Tanzania.

While access opens, challenges remain. Kavura laments that procurement entities do not often provide feedback to suppliers. “Local banks are also absolutely not supportive of startups,” says Kavura.  “Usually they have very difficult requirements for financing. We usually get support from regional banks.”

The investigative journalists: Dataphyte (Nigeria)

Dataphyte’s investigations into corruption in the procurement landscape in Nigeria have forced government agencies to issue retractions and have been a foundation of the push for procurement reform in Nigeria. The Dataphyte editorial trust includes a lawyer, an economist, a human rights activist, a lecturer and the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development.

Since the inception of emergency procurement procedures in April 2021, Dataphyte has revealed several bombshell irregularities across a number of Nigerian procurement entities. One Dataphyte investigation revealed inflated prices and nebulous details in a contract to supply masks to a ministry. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources allegedly tampered with a published contract worth 325 million Naira (approximately US$850,000) on the NOCOPO website following an information request from Dataphyte, according to the latter. Another Dataphyte investigation reportedly found that more than 1,000 payments by state-affiliated organizations failed to provide a simple payment description, amounting to 173 billion Naira (approximately US$450 million) worth of payments between January and April 2020.

Alex Macbeth writes about global procurement for Open Contracting Partnership, a US-based organization that promotes open data and transparency in public procurement.  The Africa Report

Prominent Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi has paid a high price for her willingness to challenge authority. Her sexually explicit protests have been likened to pornography, but Ugandan activist and writer Stella Nyanzi says sex is the most effective -- and entertaining -- way to shake people out of their apathy.

"I learnt very early that there are some topics in Uganda that are tired and... the only way to capture attention is to introduce some shock value," the 47-year-old told AFP in an interview in Kampala.

And plenty of people have been shocked by Nyanzi's methods, which range from calling President Yoweri Museveni "a pair of buttocks" to baring her breasts during a court hearing.

But the former university researcher, who holds a doctorate on sexuality in Africa and boasts nearly 300,000 followers on Facebook, is unrepentant.

"We don't see or we pretend we don't see what's happening in society especially the excesses and the violations" under Museveni's decades-long authoritarian rule, she said.

"To say to a violent, militant, brutal regime that you are violent, stop, does not (have) as much impact as to say... fuck the rapist, militant penis of the dictatorship."

Stella Nyanzi says her children keep her going
 

Stella Nyanzi says her children keep her going

She has paid a high price of her willingness to challenge authority -- imprisoned for "cyber-harassment" in 2019 after she posted a profane poem on Facebook about Museveni and suffering a miscarriage after being beaten in jail.

Although she insists that her losses are "not worth writing home about", grief is at the heart of her quest to bring down Museveni.

After losing her parents in quick succession six years ago -- unable to find life-saving medicines or get an ambulance in time -- Nyanzi turned to humour, in part to escape the overwhelming sadness that engulfed her.

In her hands however, humour has also become a weapon to channel her rage against a government she blames for the deaths of her parents and thousands of Ugandans who lack access to reliable health care and other public services.

- 'Radical rudeness' -

A polarising figure, Nyanzi has drawn scorn from religious conservatives, and even from some feminists, who criticise her relentless focus on sex.

"I am tired of feminists telling me how I am wrong and how I can't do this and how this is anti-feminist," she said.

Nyanzi says Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is 'living on borrowed time'
 

Nyanzi says Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is 'living on borrowed time'

"Just allow me to be free, to do my own thinking and my own protest," she said, pointing out that her no-holds-barred approach to sexuality is based in pre-Christian Ugandan culture and aimed at empowering women by encouraging them to discuss taboo subjects.

Her tactics also borrow from a political tradition of "radical rudeness", which has its roots in the country's anti-colonial struggle.

And while her blistering online diatribes comparing Museveni's regime to parasitic pubic lice have earned her the tag of "Uganda's rudest woman", the strategy has also made her a social media star outside the country.

Online threats from pro-government trolls don't faze her.

"I am not looking for love and hugs," she said.

"I go to social media very consciously and very purposefully to speak truth to power, truth which our traditional public media no longer speaks."

Furthermore, the toxic rhetoric she encounters pales in comparison to the very real risks faced by many activists in Uganda.

Nyanzi fled to Kenya earlier this year after her partner was allegedly abducted and tortured.

Although she has since returned to Kampala, she is contemplating the possibility of a life in exile to protect her three children.

- 'Hope keeps me going' -

But the self-described optimist, who contested parliamentary elections in January and lost, has no plans to throw in the towel.

"The hope that (Uganda) can change and may become better for the next generation keeps me going," she said.

With a median age that is less than 16, most Ugandans have no memory of life before Museveni. The former rebel seized power in 1986, after toppling two presidents.

Stella Nyanzi fled to Kenya earlier this year after her partner was allegedly abducted and tortured but has since returned to Uganda
 

Stella Nyanzi fled to Kenya earlier this year after her partner was allegedly abducted and tortured but has since returned to Uganda

At 77, he belongs firmly to her "father's generation", Nyanzi said.

"Museveni is living on borrowed time... his family and his system will one day be out of power."

When that happens, she hopes that her compulsion to protest will also become a thing of the past.

But until then, she stands ready and armed with an arsenal of explicit imagery designed to shock and provoke change.

"What I am doing is not erotica and it's not pornography. It's rage and the expression of rage using my body." Mail Online

The last three mountain glaciers in Africa are receding so much that they may disappear in the next 20 years, according to a recent United Nations report that outlines the many issues facing the continent due to global warming.

Ahead of the United Nations' climate change conference on Oct. 31, the World Meteorological Organization released a report on the state of Africa's climate in 2020, detailing how much the continent's estimated 1.3 billion people will be affected in the coming years.

The three mountain glaciers remaining — Mount Kenya in Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and the famous Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — aren't big enough to provide water resources, but have become tourist attractions. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is one of the most popular climbs in the world.

However, the glaciers on the mountains are receding higher than the global average. If they continue to do so, they will be completely gone by the 2040s, the report says. Mount Kenya is on pace to deglaciate by 2030, which would make it "one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to human-induced climate change," according to the report.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 file photo, A herd of adult and baby elephants walks in the dawn light in 2012 as the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, sits topped with snow in the background, seen from Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya. The glaciers on top of the mountain is one of three expecting to disappear in the next two decades.
In this Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 file photo, A herd of adult and baby elephants walks in the dawn light in 2012 as the highest …  
BEN CURTIS, AP

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general for the WMO, said in a statement the eventual loss of the glaciers, "signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system." 

Deglaciation is just one of many climate issues facing the continent, the report shows. Over 15 countries reported deaths or significant displacement of populations due to excessive flooding. In addition, droughts and dry conditions prevailed in northwest and southeastern parts of Africa, so much so that the country of Madagascar is experiencing a humanitarian crisis.

Temperatures in the past 30 years also increased faster than the global average, with 2020 being one of the continent's hottest years on record. In addition, sea levels rose up to 4.1 millimeters a year along the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts. 

A drought or flood can result in food insecurity increasing by 5-20% in certain sub-Saharan African populations.

Worldwide, 12% of recent displacement of human population occurred in East Africa, resulting in over one million displacements. 

 

If the trends continue and action is not taken, the report states up to 118 million people who live on less than $1.90 a day will be exposed to floods, droughts and extreme heat.

All of the concerning climate change possibilities come as COVID-19 as severely impacted the continent. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Africa has reported more than 6 million COVID-19 cases and 148,000 deaths, according to World Health Organization data. However, a recent report by the WHO states only 14.2% of infections are being detected.

Vaccination rates are also far behind, as just 4.96% of the continent is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In September, the WHO estimated the continent only had enough vaccines to inoculate just 17% of the population this year, but efforts are being made to send more vaccines to countries.

Taalas said helping the continent overcome COVID-19 is just as important as avoiding climate disasters.

"Along with COVID-19 recovery, enhancing climate resilience is an urgent and continuing need. Investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems," he said.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

Natural immunity is good: Getting vaccinated after being sick with COVID-19 is better

Legislator says the country is eager to know where the differences between the two national leaders stemmed from

In Summary
  • Waruguru at the same time hit out at the Mt Kenya Foundation caucus saying it was for the rich and had nothing to offer to the poor masses.
  • The MP warned that if Raila is being fronted by the ‘billionaire’ caucus in the mountain as their presidential candidate, he is bound to fail.
Laikipia Woman Rep Catherine Waruguru has said she will seek a statement in Parliament to know where the differences between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto stemmed from.

Waruguru said the country is eager to know where the fallout between the two national leaders came from, how it is affecting the economy and how it will be addressed.

 

The legislator noted that the issue should be addressed soonest so that when the country goes into the general election next year, there should be no tension. 

“And I want to warn Amos Kimunya, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, not to ‘sit’ on my statement when I present it. We want to know what transpired between the two,” Waruguru said.

She spoke during the graduation ceremony of 300 youths from Laikipia who underwent construction skills training  to conform with the changing trend of technology in the industry.

National Industrial Training Authority, National Construction Authority and Eurofix Industries Limited partnered to offer the one-week training.

The training, which started on Tuesday last week and ended yesterday was being held at the Woman Rep's Nanyuki office.

Eurofix representative Wilson Iraya said the workers acquired certificates after the session so that they can compete fairly in the sector.

Waruguru equated the relation between the President and his deputy to a family where the husband and the wife have divorced but the latter keeps walking around with the certificate.

“The wife keeps walking in the markets, in churches, mosques and elsewhere complaining that the man failed to perform his duties as a partner while the husband is enjoying in some places with another partner,” Waruguru said. 

She said ODM leader Raila Odinga who is supposed to be the leader of opposition is currently enjoying the trappings of power and incumbency.

Waruguru at the same time hit out at the Mt Kenya Foundation caucus saying it was for the rich and had nothing to offer to the poor masses.

“When the county was hit by coronavirus, we did not see them giving food aid to the poor despite some of them owning maize milling companies. When our people are attacked by bandits in Laikipia, we do not hear or see them,” she said.

The MP warned that if Raila is being fronted by the ‘billionaire’ caucus in the mountain as their presidential candidate, he is bound to fail. -Edited by SKanyara B y Eliud Waithaka, The Star

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera being received by the Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa and ICT CS Joe Mucheru at JKIA on Tuesday.
Image: PSCU

He was received by Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa and ICT CS Joe Mucheru.

In Summary

• Chakwera will be the chief guest at this year's Mashujaa/Heroes Day celebrations.

• The preparations for the celebrations have been completed and the gates into the stadium will be opened from 4am.


Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera being received by the Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa and ICT CS Joe Mucheru at JKIA on Tuesday.
Image: PSCU

President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has arrived in the country for a three-day state visit accompanied by First Lady Monica.

Chakwera will be the chief guest at this year's Mashujaa Day celebrations that will be held at the Wang'uru Stadium in Kirinyaga county on Wednesday. 

The Kenya Airways flight carrying the two touched down this afternoon at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Upon arrival, they were received by Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa and his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta are expected to receive the visiting president and his delegation on Thursday at State House, Nairobi.

Image: PSCU
 

It is Chakwera's first visit to the country as a president after winning last year's elections, defeating Peter Mutharika with 58.57 per cent of the votes.

 Mashujaa Day is observed on October 20 as a public holiday to collectively honour all those who contributed towards the struggle for Kenya's independence or positively contributed in post-independence Kenya.

The preparations for the celebrations have been completed and the gates into the stadium will be opened from 4am. By Kevin Cheruiyot, The Star

 

 

 

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