The Ugandan government is introducing a digital or electronic government procurement system (e-GP) as a strategic move to combat corruption in the country. Ramathan Ggoobi, the finance ministry permanent secretary, emphasized that the innovative system aims to minimize human contact, particularly during the procurement of items in Uganda.
Speaking during a leadership and sponsorship awareness engagement at Kampala Serena Hotel, Ggoobi highlighted that the e-GP system would keep officials away from physical money, thereby reducing the likelihood of engaging in corrupt practices. The traditional method of physical interaction during procurement increases the risk of bribery, as individuals may be tempted due to the presence of cash. The government is actively transitioning away from this vulnerable scenario.
Ggoobi further asserted that electronic procurement would enhance transparency and accountability, addressing the prevalent issues of corruption and bribery in the bidding process. The move to e-GP is expected to streamline the procurement process, saving both time and money.
According to Ggoobi, accounting officers will no longer need to spend time dealing with piles of files and receipt books. Additionally, they will not have to navigate the cumbersome process of soliciting signatures for approval, simplifying the entire procurement procedure.
The government initiated the e-GP project management team in 2018, comprising representatives from the finance ministry, National Information Technology Authority, and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority. Currently, Uganda allocates approximately 25% (about sh7.754 trillion) of the government budget through procurement. Ggoobi estimates that the implementation of e-procurement could result in annual savings ranging from sh387 billion to sh620 billion.
Since 2019, the government has been conducting a successful pilot study involving 36 entities. Buoyed by the positive outcomes, the government plans to enroll over 420 entities onto the system, aiming to eliminate paper procurement entirely.
Ggoobi emphasized the urgency of reversing the trend of over-projectization, stating that delays in procurement adversely impact multiple sectors and burden taxpayers. The move to e-GP is seen as a crucial step in addressing this issue.
Dorothy Kisaka, executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), advised suppliers to maintain consistency in their deliveries to earn and retain government trust. Inconsistent supplies, she noted, could lead to rejection and a loss of trust. She highlighted the importance of reliability, citing examples of fake electric transformers and meters that pose risks to Ugandans.
Benson Tumuramye, the executive director of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA), echoed the benefits of the e-procurement system. He emphasized that the online platform would significantly reduce government spending on procurement and eliminate human elements associated with bribery. Tumuramye also cautioned bidders on the importance of efficiency in the new system, stating that it would contribute to reducing bidding costs.