The Forum is aimed at key public procurement policy makers, senior public procurement practitioners, development partners, academics, related professional bodies and international NGOs. The forum seeks establishment of a network of procurement practitioners across Africa for providing the platform for the exchange of views on best practices and the way forward. The forum is an opportunity for African governments (and the IFIs) to discuss and agree on the process that will emphasize African priorities regarding the use of procurement systems in African countries as a mandatory means for medium- and long-term development policy.
The forum discusses ways of maximizing the potential for public procurement to leverage national economic development and investments planning for infrastructure development. Considering that public procurement accounts for as much as 70% of government budgets across Africa, the strengthening and use of African procurement systems is therefore crucial not only for minimizing the effects of the current financial and economic crisis, but also to restore a level of economic growth and development sufficient to reduce poverty.
The first forum was held in December 1998 at the AfDB headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire and it brought together representatives of thirty African governments. The Abidjan conference on public procurement reforms helped in highlighting key challenges in the modernization of procurement systems in Africa; brought about a consensus among African governments on the importance of public procurement for the promotion of good governance; and furthered the reform of national procurement systems with a common strategic framework, focusing on improved accountability, transparency and efficiency.
Since the Abidjan conference, several African countries have embarked on procurement reforms programs with the support of the AfDB, the World Bank and other development partners, and the assistance of sub-regional organizations such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which have adopted regional directives on public procurement.