The World Bank this week singled out Rwanda for being the first African country to roll out electronic procurement for all government goods and services.
From the tone of the report, one could be misled to think that the migration to the Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) system was a walk in the park- no, it was not – otherwise more countries would have taken the same road ages ago.
Government procurement is the main source of illicit financial transactions leading to large scale corruption. In some societies, it has come to be regarded as a natural modus operandi. Africa has not been spared of the vice.
In last year’s Corruption Perception Index compiled by Transparency International, the most corrupt countries were found in Sub- Saharan Africa. Rwanda was not among the Bad Boy Club, since, together with Cape Verde, were named third least corrupt countries in Africa.
It was not a stroke of luck; it was a matter of choice. As far back as 2007, in a bid to plug loopholes and stop the heamorrhage in public procurement, a public procurement law was passed. Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee went into high gear in grilling government officials seeking them to account.
The government even sent its officers for benchmarking best practices where public procurement had been streamlined successfully, hence the e-GP platform.
One lesson that comes out of Rwanda’s successful fight against corruption is that goodwill and setting the bar of governance very high are essential ingredients. Many governments have high-sounding anti-corruption policies, but implementation is glaringly missing.
The fight against corruption never ends and whatever Rwanda scores on corruption indices, its people should not seat on their laurels. They should boldly point out incidents and situations where it warrants intervention. That is the first line of defence against graft and its associates.