On 3-5 April 2017, Prof Geo Quinot, Director of APLU, participated in the Africa High-Level Public Procurement Forum on Harnessing Public Procurement for Socio-Economic Growth, hosted in Johannesburg by the African Development Bank and the Word Bank Group. Quinot spoke as a keynote speaker in the plenary session on 3 April on “Regulating Public Procurement for Development in Africa”. He also participated in a panel discussion on the question “How can public procurement contribute to realizing socio-economic aspirations?”.
In his keynote contribution, Quinot reflected on the mainstreaming of a developmental perspective on public procurement, and particularly the regulation of public procurement, in recent years. This trend is borne out by the patent link between public procurement and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its sustainable development goals, most clearly in SDG 17 dealing with strengthening the means of implementation and partnerships for the goals; in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of 2015, where the parties commit themselves to “establish transparent public procurement frameworks as a strategic tool to reinforce sustainable development”. It emerges from the most recent UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, where there were a number of sessions focusing specially on public procurement as a mechanism to facilitate the private sector’s role in promoting human rights, including developmental rights. It emerges from the work currently done by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the context of business activities. In response to the draft general comment of the Committee on this topic, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission called on the committee to explicitly include attention to the state-business nexus in the form of public procurement.
The Forum was aimed at key public procurement policy makers, senior public procurement practitioners, development partners, academics, related professional bodies and international NGOs and brought together 250+ senior and technical-level government officials from almost all African countries, representatives from Brazil, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, South Korea, Ukraine, and Vietnam, as well as representatives of Transparency International, WTO, OECD, COST, USTDA, FIDIC, ITCILO, UN, CIPS, NEC, Government Technical Advisory Center of South Africa, WAEMU, EBRD, UNCITRAL and Open Contracting Partnership. At its conclusion, the Forum adopted the 2017 JOHANNESBURG RESOLUTION ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AFRICA HIGH-LEVEL FORUM ON HARNESSING PUBLIC PROCUREMENT FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROWTH. In the Resolution, delegates agreed “take urgent strategic and tactical actions, in order to accelerate and sustain achievements by:
- Elevating public procurement to a strategic function to enable it contribute to realizing countries sustainable and socio-economic aspirations;
- Strengthening the integrity of public procurement systems;
- Substantially increasing capability building in public procurement and contract management through capacity development and professionalization of the public procurement function;
- Ensuring public procurement is effective in making PPP succeed in Africa; and
- Harnessing Information Technology (IT) for efficient public procurement.”
The Resolution sets out 37 Actions to be undertaken in realising these objectives.