Liberia: PPCC to Begin Use of Electronic Procurement System
— As it signs project roll-out agreement with World Bank
The Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) has embarked on its transition from a manual procurement system for all government contracts that require bidding and procurement each to the modern and globally advancing electronic system.
The announcement of the new public procurement experience was made yesterday at the PPCC’s head office on Capitol Hill as the institution signed the project roll-out agreement with the World Bank at the cost of US$2.8 million. The project is expected to be implemented in phases.
In her remarks at the signing ceremony, Georgia Wallen, World Bank Liberia Country Manager, said the signing of the electronic government procurement (e-GP) contract, a crucial initiative supported by the World Bank, the European Union (EU), and Sweden, is aimed at delivering the supply, installation, configuration, deployment, and maintenance of the electronic Government procurement system software.
“I want to assure the Government of Liberia and other stakeholders that the World Bank is strongly focused on supporting the government in improving the efficiency and oversight of public procurement,” Wallen said.
She pointed out that, at this juncture of the World Bank-Liberia relationship, the timely delivery of the e-GP system is paramount because the implementation period with the global financial institution’s involvement is less than one year.
“With less than one year before the closure of the project, swift, decisive, proactive, and timely action will make all the difference,” Wallen said. “Time is of essence, especially to make up for the lost time in the implementation process.”
The World Bank Country Manager continued that the urgency to catch up and adhere to the agreed timelines and deliverables is crucial for the project’s success and its overall benefit to Liberia’s public procurement reform, adding that her institution sincerely desires that all stakeholders collaborate seamlessly to expedite the remaining implementation phases.
She disclosed that the support to the e-GP will come to an end on October 30, 2024 and will not be extended beyond the date. Therefore, the definite deadline to achieve the objectives and underscore the importance of adhering to the established timelines needs no overemphasis.
“The project’s expiration signifies not just a conclusion but a call to action for all parties involved to work diligently, ensuring that the benefits of the e-GP system are realized,” Wallen explained.
Speaking further, she said beyond the daily details of the implementation, all parties involved, including the Government of Liberia through the PPCC and the African Development Bank (AfDB) need to stay focused on results.
“Finally, in this critical final stretch of the race to deliver e-GP, we strongly recommend that PPCC constitute an e-GP task force, a team of technical experts to champion monitoring and evaluation of the agreed deliverables, as well as contract management,” she said.
According to her, the Public Financial Management Reform for Institutional Strengthening Project (PFMRISP) is financing the e-GP for Liberia, adding that the success of the e-GP project will not be measured by its implementation but by its impact on Liberia’s public procurement system, ensuring that the scarce taxpayers’ dollars are used in ways that deliver tangible benefits to the country.
Daniel Osei delivered remarks on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB), beginning by commending Liberians for the maturity and the high level of discipline exemplified in the just ended legislative and presidential elections.
“All along we Ghanaians have boasted of having the best performing democracy in Africa but the recent elections in Liberia have put this country ahead of Ghana. We will have to learn from you in some ways,” he said, as the audience cheered and clapped in appreciation of his candid compliment to the people of Liberia.
Osei was also glad to note that AfDB was instrumental taking the leading steps with Liberia in its quest to establish an electronic procurement platform for the Public procurement system and, through institutional support interventions, the Bank funded the initial scoping studies and assignment that culminated in the development of the e-GP strategy, Business process Review and Re-engineering (BPR), development of guidelines and e-GP catalog and Preparation of Business, as well as the Functional and Technical Specifications of the e-Government Procurement system for Liberia.
AfDB began its operations in Liberia in 1968 and since then, the Bank has been involved with numerous development programs in the country.
“In addition, the Bank, as part of its efforts to help develop the capacity of the PPCC, funded some study tours to the Republic of Georgia and other African countries that have successfully operationalized e-GP systems,” Osei said.
“Today’s signing ceremony is a testament that the country and its partners have come a long way to get to this vantage point in the road map of the e-GP agenda. However, it should be reiterated that there is even more ahead to be achieved if we all sustain our commitments to the successful end of this agenda.”
Like Wallen from the World Bank, Osei said the overarching development agenda is to ensure a transparent, efficient, effective and accountable public procurement system that guarantees higher performance and stakeholder confidence in public contracting processes.
According to him, with the involvement of e-GP it is expected that full operationalization of the system after its completion will minimize several risks in the manual environment of the procurement cycle and ensure effective interface between approved budget and the procurement plans implementation.
He added that in order for the project to succeed, all partners involved should endeavor to execute what is required of them.
“The e-GP system reduces the carbon footprints of the public procurement processes, and also provides reliable and secure contracting statistical information for planning and other purposes, Osei pointed out.
PPCC Executive Director, Bodger Scott Johnson, expressed joy as he said that with the support from the partners, PPCC, under his watch, will transition to the e-GP system.
Johnson said transitioning from manual to e-GP has long been coming, even dating as far back as to the days of his predecessors, James Dobor Jallah and Jargbe Roseline Nagbe Kowo, whom he appreciates for setting up the foundation for the implementation of the project.
In his retrospection, the new PPCC boss said the civil war broke down infrastructures and systems, including the procurement system of the country and, as such, seeing PPCC becoming a viable public service delivery entity encourages him to do the best he can, along with his team, to ensure that the e-GP is rolled out successfully and genuinely used by all, including vendors.