Liberia: CEMESP Releases Report On Procurement of Digital Technologies

Monrovia — The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) has launched its Liberia Country Report on the procurement of digital Technologies.

The report is an outcome of research conducted by CEMESP in partnership with the Uganda-based African Freedom of Information Center with funding support from Omidya Network.

Titled "Government Procurement of Digital Technology Systems (DTSs) In Africa" the research is being conducted in three African countries including Nigeria, Uganda, and Liberia.

Launching the report in Monrovia recently, Atty. Lamii Kpargoi, the lead consultant hired by CEMESP to conduct the study said, the research project was intended to give members of the public an opportunity to know how the government engages with the procurement of digital equipment.

"The Liberian component of the study focused on achieving public awareness of Digital Technology Systems (DTSs), perceptions towards the government in DTSs and expectations regarding legal frameworks, and the process of procurement and information disclosure," Atty Kpargoi said.

One key finding from the study, according to Atty. Lamii Kpargoi is that it found "no clear budget line for the purchase of digital equipment and that 80% of people interviewed think there must be public competitive bidding as almost all the people said there is no transparency in government's procurement and that the government does not prioritize the protection of digital rights of citizens."

The report also finds that 34% of the people interviewed are neutral as to whether the government follows the law, suggesting that not a single procurement plan by any government entity seeks procurement of digital technology equipment.

Most respondents believe procurement practices must be transparent as indicated by about 68% of them asking for public awareness and policy around data privacy that mandates the government to adopt user-friendly documents posted on websites.

Respondents to the survey questions were drawn from counties includeding Bong, Montserrado, Nimba, Bassa, and Margibi.

A total of four hundred (400) persons, (200 interviewed in person and 200 interviewed online), participated in the survey of which 30% of them were females and 70% accounted for males.

The report is recommending that that government among several things takes action to create public awareness on digital technology procurement.

It also lays emphasis on the need to pass a data protection law for the country.

The report which also assessed existing legal regimes governing the acquisition of digital technologies, as well as knowledge levels of Liberians relative to digital technology was earlier validated on June 8, 2021, when the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding held a one-day special session with representatives of the Civil Society Organizations, the media and students from the Procurement Department at the United Methodist University (UMU) and the University of Liberia.

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