Public Procurement: Lessons from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

March 2003 | OECD Development Centre

This paper presents a comparative analysis of the public procurement system in three East African countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In response to both domestic and international pressures, these countries have recently undertaken important initiatives to make their public procurement systems more efficient and transparent in line with international procurement guidelines. The experience of the three countries with the reforms has been quite varied. While Tanzania has moved fast with the reforms and has already put in place a legislative framework for public procurement, Kenya and Uganda have yet to enact procurement legislation. In Kenya, a number of significant changes have already been affected through a ministerial gazette notice pending the coming into force of a Procurement Act. There is also an urgent need for strengthening institutions involved in public procurement, as these institutions tend to lack technical and human resource capabilities. Although the current East African Community (EAC) Treaty does not explicitly address issues related to public procurement, the long history of co-operation among the three countries and similarities in the institutional framework for public procurement would make it worthwhile to explore possibilities of joint regional actions in this area. This, however, crucially depends on the extent to which policies, laws and regulations and the institutional frameworks in the three countries can be harmonised in the coming years.

The paper concludes by emphasising that there are certain imperatives for the development of an effective procurement system. These are:
— strengthening the democratic political process, civil society and public accountability;
— creating real market conditions; and
— improving work ethics in which public good is valued more than individual interests.

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