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Rwanda: 300 Awarded Certificates in Procurement Courses


AllAfrica.com

By Sarah Kwihangana

September 28, 2012

The School of Finance and Banking (SFB) has awarded certificates to over 300 students who have completed training in professional procurement courses.

The 2nd certificate awarding ceremony was held yesterday in Kigali under the theme “Twinning arrangement to develop capacity in procurement for Rwanda.”

The director general, Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), Augustus Seminega said that training in professional short courses in procurement is in line with government’s plan to ensure good public procurement practices through skilled manpower.

“Initially, we had no institution offering such courses. I am happy that now our procurement officers can undertake such trainings here in Rwanda and, in turn, our employees acquire more skills,” Seminega said, adding that he was optimistic that the graduands will contribute to good practices to public procurement.

He called on the students to implement what they had learnt and also encourage their colleagues in the same field to pursue such professional courses. He further called for more people to take on these courses since there is still a wide skills gap especially in public institutions.

SFB acting rector Papias Musafiri Malimba underlined the need to create a critical capacity building in the field of procurement as it still lacks skilled professionals.

He appealed to employers to facilitate their employees to acquire such skills and called on the graduates to study all the seven modules of the professional procurement courses.

Jean Pierre Munyabugingo, a procurement consultant and one of the graduates who was also awarded a certificate of trainer, said he had acquired a lot of knowledge in the four courses he had studied under the program.

“I did a course in training of trainers, procurement for good, works and services. These courses are very practical and the knowledge I acquired is going to help me perfect my work. As a trainer I will definitely assist people and organisations where there is a need.”

Peace Asiimwe, an accountant with RPPA, received a certificate in project management and procurement planning. She says it was additional knowledge as an accountant.

“This course has broadened my understanding of procurement practices and processes. I have learnt about the laws and regulations, the process of getting a tender among other things which I intend to put in practice.” Asiimwe said.

Various students received certificates in different fields of; project management and planning, procurement for goods, works, services, audit, and logistics, advanced contract management, and of these seven were awarded certificates for training of trainers.

A law is in the pipeline to put in place an institution in charge of accrediting procurement officers in the country in a bid to enhance professionalism.

Foreign Money and Revolving Doors


December 12, 2012

It was difficult to take seriously the attack on President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, based on her faulty renditions of events surrounding the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Certainly, her performance on the Sunday TV talk shows was unimpressive, whatever conclusions one may draw as to what accounted for her persistent inaccuracies in describing what happened. But there was no real evidence that she willfully dissembled on the matter, and it didn’t seem to be of a magnitude to disqualify her for the job of Secretary of State, to which Obama reportedly wants to nominate her.

The subsequent reports about her actions regarding various African conflicts and her coziness with certain brutal strongman figures are another matter. These call into question her judgment and generate puzzlement about just what drives her views and attitudes about the bloody conflagrations that erupt with such regularity on that continent. These matters clearly would justify voting against her if any confirmation resolution made its way to the Senate, although many supporters of Rice—and of Obama—would find ways to dismiss the issue.

But there’s one fact in the background of Susan Rice that ought to be considered disqualifying—her past work for Rwanda when she was a consultant with a strategic consulting firm called Intellibridge. The riff on Rice is that she has demonstrated a certain softness toward Rwanda and particularly its president, Paul Kagame, in various policy deliberations regarding Rwanda’s support for a brutal rebel group that is wreaking havoc in neighboring Congo. And some have wondered if her past business relationship with Rwanda may be influencing her thinking on the matter.

But let’s step back here. We can never know for sure just what drives Rice’s ongoing desire to shield the Rwandan leader from international censure and pressure, though her actions, as reported recently by Helene Cooper in the New York Times, aren’t particularly fragrant. But we do know that she took money from an African government after serving in the State Department as assistant secretary for African affairs.

There’s nothing wrong with contracting with foreign governments who want influence in the U.S. capital. And some Washington bigwigs have made lots of money catering to these governments and their leaders. That’s fine. I wouldn’t even argue that Obama should succeed in extracting more tax dollars from these people.

But our country’s Secretary of State represents the United States of America throughout the world—to countries large and small; in matters weighty and trivial. There should never be any doubt—abroad or at home—about what drives the sentiments and actions of such high governmental officials: the national interest, as determined by the nation’s president.

No president should ever appoint to the position of secretary of state anyone who has ever taken money from a foreign government. There should be a clear dichotomy between getting rich serving the interests of other countries in the U.S. capital and serving U.S. interests at the top of America’s foreign-policy establishment.

In fact, there ought to be a law. Congress should pass legislation debarring from such elevated positions of service in the foreign-policy realm people who have had business relationships with foreign countries. No debates about how long those relationships lasted . . . or how much money was involved . . . or whether it really and truly would color the person’s judgment or outlook on countries of past financial alignment. The law would cut through all that by saying simply that you can take money from foreign governments or you can represent your country abroad, but you can’t do both.

Paul R. Pillar of Georgetown, writing in these spaces, noted accurately the problems that arise when top Washington officials navigate the enticing revolving door between government service and rich contracts in the private sector. He said Rice’s attachment to Kagame and his government illustrates “the baggage that in-and-outers may acquire during periods that they are out of government.” He adds, “Relationships…of advocacy, trust and taking action on behalf of the client’s interests are not relationships that can be turned on and off like a light switch.”

True, but it gets difficult to sort it all out, and efforts to do so simply confuse the matter and foster endless debate.

In Helene Cooper’s Times piece, Rice’s acolytes rushed to her defense by saying that her past connection with Rwanda hasn’t affected her behavior as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations—and hence presumably wouldn’t do so if she were secretary of state. Her spokesman, Payton Knopf, told the Times, “Ambassador Rice’s brief consultancy at Intellibridge has had no impact on her work at the United Nations. She implements the agreed policy of the Unites States at the U.N.” Perhaps. But that’s hardly the point. The question is what kind of advocacy does she put forth before the agreed policy of the United States is determined.

We don’t know the answer to that question and, if we did, we still wouldn’t know what motivations affected whatever advocacy Ms. Rice embraced. But, if Congress drew a line between foreign representation and U.S. foreign service, it wouldn’t matter. No debate. Her name wouldn’t come up.

No such line is going to be forthcoming from Congress. It is not in the interest of official Washington, and the American people don’t care. But, if Obama sends up Rice’s name for secretary of state, an ugly debate will ensue. And it will be a debate that should have been avoided.

Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

Uganda participates in East African procurement forum


The Independent

By Julius Businge

December 5, 2012

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) Executive Director, Cornelia Sabiiti is leading a team of 19 professionals to a regional procurement forum in Bujumbura, Burundi that runs from Dec. 5 to 7, the procurement body said in a press statement released on Dec. 5.

Over 200 delegates from public, private and civil organisations in the region are attending the 5th East African Procurement Forum being held in Bujumbura.

During the three day conference delegates from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan will deliberate on issues affecting public procurement in the region. The objective of the forum is to serve as a framework that helps participants learn and benchmark with each other on their respective public procurement systems including policies and enforcement measures.

The Ugandan team includes delegates from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Ministry of Education & Sports, Uganda Management Institute (UMI), Ministry of Health, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Ministry of Local Government, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Institute of Procurement Professionals of Uganda (IPPU), AH Consulting and the Ministry of Defense.

Uganda will be presenting six papers including a paper on ethics and transparency in the management of public procurement; the contribution of civil society and the public sectors on ethics and transparency in public procurement. Another paper will look at the challenges of an independent regulatory authority.

The Burundi forum comes on the heels of the successful public procurement symposium PPDA held in September 2012 bringing together public and private sector professionals in Uganda.

Burundi: A Deepening Corruption Crisis


Africa Report  N°18521 Mar 2012

Translation from French.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Despite the establishment of anti-corruption agencies, Burundi is facing a deepening corruption crisis that threatens to jeopardise a peace that is based on development and economic growth bolstered by the state and driven by foreign investment. The “neopatrimonialist” practices of the party in office since 2005 has relegated Burundi to the lowest governance rankings, reduced its appeal to foreign investors, damaged relations with donors; and contributed to social discontent. More worrying still, neopatrimonialism is undermining the credibility of post-conflict institutions, relations between former Tutsi and new Hutu elites and cohesion within the ruling party, whose leaders are regularly involved in corruption scandals. In order to improve public governance, the Burundian authorities should “walk the talk” and take bold steps to curtail corruption. Civil society should actively pursue its watchdog role and organise mass mobilisation against corruption and donors should prioritise good governance.

Since Burundi became a republic in 1966, state capture, mostly by the Tutsi elite, was at the centre of politics, and the unfair wealth distribution fuelled conflict. While the 1993-2003 civil war has not threatened the Tutsi political and economic domination, it has increased corruption and favoured the rise of an ethnically diverse oligarchy.

When the CNDD-FDD (Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de défense de la démocratie) rebellion came to power in 2005, it intended not only to transfer political power from the Tutsi to the Hutu but also to improve governance. The new authorities pledged to fight corruption and created state structures to this effect. However, the first corruption scandals involving the CNDD-FDD dignitaries and state officials watered down the hope of a more equitable wealth distribution.

In addition to the politicisation of the civil service, the ruling party captured the public sector and its resources. It is coveting the private sector by trying to extend its control over the banking sector. It is also interfering in privatisation processes, thwarting efforts to improve the business climate. In such a small economy, where the state maintains a prominent role, the monopolisation of public and private resources risks derailing the peacebuilding process.

The president took the lead in the fight against corruption to improve Burundi’s declining image and address the impact of this pervasive corruption on foreign aid – which amounts to half of the state budget. He launched a “zero tolerance” campaign and designed a national strategy for good governance. However, as the core problem has not been correctly identified, this approach is doomed to fail. The solution is not to “get the talk right”, to “get the institutions right” and to “get the legal framework right”; it is to change the power relations that undermine good governance.

The national strategy for good governance includes all the necessary technical ingredients to fight corruption: improved legal framework, citizens’ access to information, independent monitoring and regulatory organisations, depoliticised civil service managers, transparent tendering processes and public servants recruitments, and reform of the natural resources sector.

What is missing is a clear political agenda. Civil society organisations should create a mass movement against corruption through the establishment of an anti-corruption forum gathering the private sector, rural organisations and universities. They should also conduct independent citizens’ surveys and assessments and scrutinise the government’s anti-corruption performance. Donors should prioritise the fight against corruption and reconsider their engagement if governance does not improve. Now that the anti-corruption agenda has become a public policy through the national strategy for good governance, it is up to civil society and donors to create the conditions for its implementation.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To create independent institutional checks and balances

To the Government and the Parliament:

1.  Establish the High Court of Justice as required by articles 233, 234, 235 and 236 of the constitution and strengthen the statutory safeguards for the independence of the judiciary, such as the revision of the composition and powers of the Superior Council of the Judiciary and the principle of tenure of judges.

2.  Review the anti-corruption law to extend the powers of the anti-corruption agencies, strengthen the control of illicit enrichment and protect informants.

To the Government:

3.  Remove the supervision authority of the executive branch over the General State Inspectorate and the regulatory agencies so that they become independent administrative authorities.

To improve governance and transparency in the public sector

To the Government:

4.  Activate the recruitment committee of the civil service ministry, integrate civil society in its composition and publicise widely the recruitment and appeal procedures.

5.  Ensure the declarations of assets and conflicts of interest are mandatory and public for all politicians and senior members of the Burundi Revenue Agency, procurement units, and privatisation and anti-cor­rup­tion institutions.

6.  Include civil society representatives in the procurement units within the ministries; limit by decree the categories of public contracts with a secret nature incompatible with any publicity or competition; and change the composition of the committee in charge of the qualification of these contracts by entrusting the chairmanship to a senior judge.

7.  Pass a law on access to administrative documents and publish on the Internet financial details of the state and public companies, such as the budget adopted and implemented by ministries and agencies, budget amend­ments, other public accounts, procurement contracts, etc.

8.  Reform the legal and institutional framework of the oil and mining sector, drawing on international good practice and civil society involvement, and join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

To create the conditions for the implementation of reforms

To Civil Society:

9.  Establish the anti-corruption forum set out in the national strategy for good governance involving companies, universities and rural and urban associations, and establish a citizen’s oversight commission to mon­i­tor public procurement practices, influence peddling, corruption in the land administration and illicit enrichment of public servants and politicians.

10.  Conduct social audits and an assessment of the “national integrity system”, the government’s anti-cor­rup­tion performance, the business climate and privatisation processes.

To the European Union:

11.  Ensure the fight against corruption features prominently in the dialogue with Burundi, prioritise governance in the eleventh European Development Fund and conduct an assessment of the aid by the European Court of Auditors.

To the other donors (African Development Bank, World Bank, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France, the U.S., Japan, etc.):

12.  Support civil society efforts against corruption, including training to improve knowledge of public finance, procurement and legal control.

13.  Include social audits in development projects and suspend projects where corruption has been proved.

14.  Link budget support to the implementation of independent institutional checks and balances and to progress in terms of governance and transparency of the administration.

15.  Conduct a performance audit on donor-backed institutional checks and balances and support them only after securing guarantees of their independence and conducting a performance audit.

16.  Ask the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to publicly release its assessment of the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.

Access the full report here


Africa on K Street: Lobbying Is Not Restricted to the Developed World


Huffington Post.

By Vijava Ramachandran

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

February 13, 2012

The aid community is well-accustomed to pushing for transparency in foreign aid transactions. But are we missing another key flow of money?

A recent article by Geoffrey York, African bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, described a contract signed a few years ago by the Government of Rwanda with Racepoint Group, which was tasked with doing an image makeover for the Rwandan government for a monthly fee of over $50,000. The rationale was that public perceptions of Rwanda were dominated by the horrific genocide that occurred in the 1990s, along with accounts of human rights abuses and media censorship. The contract with Racepoint reportedly aimed to increase the number of stories of Rwanda’s successes and block criticism of the government and its alleged human rights abuses. The effort landed more than 100 positive articles per month in newspapers from the New York Times to BBC, increased discussions of travel to Rwanda by 183%, and decreased discussion of the genocide by 11%, according to Racepoint.

In 2007, Racepoint also led a campaign to promote Libya‘s Gaddafi as an “intellectual and philosopher,” in advance of the thirtieth anniversary of his rule. Four years later, Libyan rebels hired the Washington lobby firm, Patton Boggs to help them unseat Gaddafi.

Other African governments have also invested in lobbyists. The Kenyan government contracted one of the top Washington lobbying firm Chlopak Leonard Schechter to restore its reputation after stories of election-related violence dominated the news headlines. It hoped to further U.S. support for its military and intelligence work, fighting piracy and dealing with the deteriorating situation in Somalia. Chlopak Leonard successfully placed positive stories in US media outlets and was able to call attention in Congress to the Somali crisis. President Obama’s Somalia policy even includes specific recommendations from the Kenyan government’s proposal to fight piracy and terrorism…Read more.

Kigali to host East African Procurement Forum


AllAfrica
24 October 2011

KigaliRwanda will early next month host the fourth East African Procurement Forum (EAPF), which will bring together about 200 participants from all members states of the regional bloc.The EAPF is held annually on a rotational basis starting from 2008, and the theme for this year is; “Improving the Efficiency of Public Procurement in East African Community for Economic Growth.

It is expected to bring together various players from member states to discuss and come up with plans to develop a mutually agreed public procurement policy in the bloc.

“All actors in public procurement will have chance to discuss several issues involved; they are also expected to come up with strategies to boost public procurement in EAC, as a single bloc.” Said Augustus Seminaga, head of the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA

He added that though it is currently possible for any entrepreneur from any of the EAC member state to win a tender in another partner country, there was still need for formulating uniform procedures to address issues like corruption in the tendering processes.

Christophe Nzakamwita, the Director of the Auditing and Monitoring Unit at RPPA, added that Rwanda had achieved a lot in containing graft in public procurement which is a major issue, though statistics were not readily available by press time.

He further explained that most of the few claims of graft are filed by some disgruntled bidders who resort to trading fictitious allegations after failing to fulfil the required conditions.

“Some entrepreneurs don’t present complete requirements and blame tender boards for being corrupt when they fail to make it through,” he said.

“Otherwise, Rwanda has achieved a lot in curbing corruption for the past years, especially due to the strict monitoring by the RPPA, along with the Auditor General’s office”.

Seminega added that RPPA is conducting a series of trainings for bidders in all provinces to increase their skills, and generally boost the sector.

Parsons Awarded Contract by USAID to Support Rural Roads in East Africa


The mid- to late-1990s seal of the United Stat...
Image via Wikipedia

Webwire

August 30, 2011

PASADENA, CAParsons announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand rural roads in the East African nation of Rwanda. The expansion of Rwanda’s rural road infrastructure will substantially benefit the Rwandan economy by supporting regional trade and giving farmers an improved transportation system and access to markets for their crops—90% of Rwanda’s population is involved in some way with crop cultivation, and improved roads will significantly impact a nation where many farmers live at the subsistence level.

Under this contract, Parsons will provide a roads inventory and condition assessments, prioritization, planning, preparation of technical designs, procurement support, and construction supervision for 1,000 kms of improved roads. The project will benefit Rwandans by employing and training local labor forces—women will comprise at least 30% of the labor force. Parsons will also provide mentor-protégé training on procurement to Rwanda’s District governments that will build local expertise and ultimately enable the Districts to tender maintenance programs directly to rural communities, empowering local work forcesRead more.

Macmillan Publishers Must Pay $18 Million for Africa Corruption


Macmillan Coffe Morning Event
Image by lewro via Flickr

Bloomberg News

By Lindsay Fortado – Jul 22, 2011 7:16 AM ET

Macmillan Publishers Ltd. was fined 11.3 million pounds ($18.4 million) over possible bribes to win contracts for education materials in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

The book publisher, based in Basingstoke, England, was ordered by a London court to pay the settlement after an internal investigation found evidence its processes for bidding on contracts “were susceptible to improper relationships,” the U.K. Serious Fraud Office said in a statement today.

“It was impossible to be sure that the awards of tenders to the company in the three jurisdictions were not accompanied by a corrupt relationship,” the SFO said. “It was plain that the company may have received revenue that had been derived from unlawful conduct.”

The investigation began after the World Bank Group told the City of London Police that Macmillan tried to pay a bribe to win a contract in Southern Sudan. The police searched premises in December 2009 to gather evidence and Macmillan reported the case to the SFO in March 2010, the prosecutors saidRead more.

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