The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: E-Procurement Platform to Cut Delays

A system that could reduce the long tedious processes that many businesses go through while filing bid documents has been created.

Star e-Solutions has developed an electronic procurement system dubbed e-PROCSYS, which automates the five phases of procurement process as specified by the Public Procurement and Disposal of public Assets (PPDA) Act 2003. The platform, which is expected to start working by the end of this year, is intended to speed-up procurement process.

"We are at the final testing stage of the full implementation of the system," Charles Magoye, the director of Star e-Solutions Limited, said.

If launched, the system could cut the number of days that a tender is advertised to when it is issued by more than a half. Currently, the manual process used by government spending units can be as long as 240 days, according to the World Bank.

But with the e-PROCSYS, it would take about 90 days or less for a tender to be awarded, according to Longino Tisasirana, the former executive director at the National Planning Authority (NPA), and now the chairman of the project. Slow public procurement is part of the reason as to why Uganda is seen as a poorer investment destination, compared to countries like Rwanda.

Businesses have lost money and time as a result of procurement delays. Earlier this year, David Luyimbazi, the director for Planning at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), said every time they were procuring a $100m project, for every month the project delays to take off, the authority incurs an additional cost of $1m. In 2012, the World Bank said Uganda spent almost 55 per cent of her budget on public procurement.

Government tenders that are subjected to international competitive bidding delay by an average of seven months from initiation to contract signing - taking 12 months instead of the ideal five months, according to PPDA.

"This is worsened at contract performance where only 48 per cent of government contracts are completed on time," said the Wold Bank. The bank recommends e-procurement as key to cutting unnecessary delays in procurement.

There are worries that the huge capital inflows that are needed to drive Uganda to the oil production stage could instead hurt the economy if the capacity of the country to procure services is not fast enough. Tisasirana was cagey on the cost of their online system, but promised it would not be as expensive as those designed by international firms.

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