By Raymond Erick Zvavanyange

Imagine you have been assigned as the captain of a military ship with an important delivery to an international trading partner. In order to do so, you would need to navigate through a pirate-infested space in some coastland. Would you refuse this assignment? Would you take it as your mission to deliver the cargo in one-piece? What would you decide? This assignment demands rare courage, determination, intelligence and stamina to follow the course through the hostile, dangerous, risky and threatening water space. Furthermore, as captain keeping the communication channels operational with your centre station and destination gives the assurance that your track is kept in sight. Losing direction and storms encounter, if this occurs, adds uncertainty to completion of the mission. It is a nerve-wrecking and intense situation, synonymous, with navigating unfamiliar space towards a desired target. Navigation could be through countries, institutions, organizations, legislations and regulations, here referred to as terrain. By definition, a terrain is a relief feature common in Africa lands.

Courtesy of Paul Spud

In the same vein, a different terrain exists; a different assignment awaits practitioners across the African continent; they should navigate the public procurement and entrepreneurship terrain. It is a terrain because the platform is not inclusive; only “experienced captains” can navigate safely using the guiding equipment and reach the destination! In Africa, policy and measures to safeguard initiatives slacken with the setting of the Sun. It is increasingly becoming difficult to address any issue on a single platform. Some platformers are easily found in the hype, excitement and convenience of Web 2.0 and Social Media while others walk the streets having no hope of ever influencing the public procurement and entrepreneurship agenda. They simply do not have the means, platform, knowledge, influence and status, and in the worst cases, lack interest.

There are countries such as South Africa, which offer hope and promise of progress while others are “sleeping giants” that need to be given a wake up call. The African landscape is fast changing overtaking initiatives in the process, for example, the recent independence declaration by South Sudan, Africa’s newest nation. The Republic of South Sudan enters the same terrain that other countries have familiarised themselves with and in some instances, navigated through. The comforting note for all is that the target destination is in sight. In addition, the destination can be visualised when the same guiding equipment is used. Below is brief navigating equipment, translation, for “ideas” for navigating Africa’s public procurement and entrepreneurship terrain. It is up to the captain of the ship to decide whether to use the equipment or not; otherwise, one risks being overtaken by events or find themselves in an undesirable place.

  1. Recognise the multiple actors involved public procurement and entrepreneurship issues and the roles they play,
  2. Public procurement and entrepreneurship initiatives are not ends in themselves; they are means to end,
  3. All-encompassing policy and measures should factor in innovations in entrepreneurship and public procurement,
  4. Transparency and accountability still are key ingredients for successful entrepreneurship and procurement initiatives,
  5. Empowerment of youths and women is a current interdisciplinary initiative aimed at giving a voice to the voiceless, eliminating discrimination and changing mindsets,
  6. Settling disputes and conflicts diplomatically and not leaving them as stalemates;
  7. Exploring ways to integrate innovation and sustainability concepts in entrepreneurship and procurement issues;
  8. Knowledge from other world regions is essential and critical guide but not rule when drafting the future of public procurement and entrepreneurship in Africa, and
  9. Tapping into resources of minority groups is central to effectiveness of policy at community level