Kenya has become the first African country to set up an online system for submitting and evaluating bids for government contracts in an effort to curb rampart corruption, notably in the telecom sector.
By launching the e-procurement system, the Kenyan government has taken a step that is expected to be followed by many African countries that face similar corruption issues. Senior Kenyan government officials were this year accused of colluding to inflate the price of bidding for a contract to supply over 1.3 million laptops to schools across the country.
Kenyan government officials were accused of manipulating the bidding process and failure to adhere to Kenyan bidding procedures. Kenyan authorities subsequently canceled the US$200 million contract awarded to India's Olive Telecommunications.
In another corruption case, opposition lawmakers in 2011 accused Kenyan government officials of flouting bidding procedures when they awarded the Pan African Network Group of China a contract for the country's digital TV signal distribution.
The Kenyan government is hoping that the e-procurement will bring order and transparency to the country's procurement system. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, who launched the system this week, said he was hopeful e-procurement will eliminate abuse of the procurement system in the country.
"We have heard complaints from Kenyans that the government is being over-charged for goods and services that it purchases. Now we are proud in being the first African country to automate end-to-end procurement and process in an evolved government system," Kenyatta said in the announcement.
By eliminating corruption in the procurement process, Kenyatta said Kenya will be a more attractive destination for investment.
Many countries in the region, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Nigeria, are also struggling to curb corruption in the way telecom tenders are awarded to foreign telecom companies.
Nigerian security agencies, for example, are still investigating whether a $470 million National Communication Security tender that was awarded to China's ZTE conformed to guidelines to government contracts.
The e-procurement system by Kenya is expected to be followed by most African countries that are under pressure from donors, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to eliminate corruption in the telecom and other sectors.
International agencies "will be using Kenya's example to push for the adoption of e-procurement by other African countries in order to promote transparency and accountability," said Edith Mwale, telecom analyst at Africa Center for ICT Development, in an interview.