PROCUREMENT: AFIC Study Reveals Women -Led Businesses Face Barriers To Win Gov’t Tenders

By Patrick Jaramogi

KAMPALA, Uganda. [SHIFT MEDIA NEWs] There is growing concern that much as over 70% of Uganda’s budget ends up in Public Procurement, Women- led businesses get just 1% of this, leaving the men to dominate with 69%.

A recent study by the Africa Freedom of Information Center (AFIC), that investigated barriers and solutions to include Women -owned Businesses in Public Procurement in Uganda also discovered that the media were not doing enough to salvage the women who alledged that they are sometimes, apart from being asked for hefty bribes to win tenders, they are also subjected to sexual molestation.

Olive Kabatwairwe, the AFIC Program Coordinator said the country study identified experiences, challenges, constraints, and what the WLBs engaging with the government present as their key achievements, barriers, and solutions.

The study conducted in the districts of Mbale,Gulu, and Kampala adopted a mixed methods approach data collection, including literature reviews, Focused Group Discussion (FGDs), Key informant interviews (KIIs), and surveys.

“Though the study established that there are laws and policies for women in procurement, their intended results were yet to be achieved,” said Kabatwairwe.

She noted that some laws lacked explicit clarity on provisions for women as their benefits were generalized under inclusion and special interest groups.

“The data collection exercise was conducted between December 2021 to June 2022 by AFIC in partnership with the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), and funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC),” Kabatwairwe told the media at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Friday.

She told the Media Roundtable Discussion that literature reviews revealed that 38.2% of the businesses were owned by women, and that there are 44% of registered WLBs in Uganda which were mostly medium and small enterprises (SMEs). “However, institutions, such as Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), have since 2005 been offering initiatives that support women entrepreneurs through business incubation trainings ,and tender,” noted Kabatwairwe

Celestin Mugisha, the AFIC Program Coordinator noted that similar surveys done in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda,and Ethiopia showed that tenders offered to women is still so low. “So far only two of the nations where surveys were conducted, Kenya and Tanzania, had some affirmative action regarding supply of tender for Public Procurement, Uganda is also on track, with new policies now suggesting 15% budget allocation for Women, while Rwanda, and Ethiopia are yet to get on track,”said Mugisha.

Celestin Mugisha the AFIC Program Coordinator speaking during the media Roundtable dialogue held at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala

He also said issues related to delayed payments, high cost of bidding, and inability to interpret bidding documents continue to affect WLBs in the region.

Edwin Muhumuza the Open Contracting Partnership Head Africa urged the media to get interested in covering and reporting on Public Procurement. He said Women-led businesses need media attention to garner support towards achieving more tenders across the public sectors.

The Africa Freedom of Information Center Executive Director Gilbert Sendugwa said: “When women have money the families are happy and much better. So let’s encourage women to earn more money by winning more tenders in public procurement.” Sendugwa observed that, much as only Tanzania and Kenya have affirmative action, issues regarding implementation still remains a big challenge.

He also highlighted issues such as lack of measurement, lack of gender disaggegerated  data, and lack of awareness regarding policy implementation, on top of access to information as some of the bottlenecks affecting women inability to comfortably compete with the male counterparts when lobbying for Public Procurement.

Shift Media News

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