The procurement law must be reviewed to benefit innovative companies and small- and medium-size enterprises to boost growth, Bright Simmons, Chief Executive Officer of mPedigree, has said.

Mr. Simmons said with the diminishing of the stock of natural resources in Africa, countries have no option but to innovate.

?The world`s largest producer of gold is China; South Africa is the fourth largest producer of gold, and [the resource] is declining. The US  produces as much oil and gas as the whole of Africa combined. The most valuable mineral is coal and Africa produces less than 5% of global output. Per capita share of oil wealth in Norway is US$15,000 as compared to US$460 in Nigeria. We do not have any other choice but innovation,? he said.  

?The procurement law is not structured in a way that is to benefit Ghanaian small- and medium-size enterprises and innovative companies; that is ridiculous! We need to re-check the procurement process,? he added.

Mr. Simmons called on authorities to make a conscious effort to bridge the gap between basic and applied research by integrating the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) into the innovation system in the country.

?Secondly, we need to examine the extent to which basic research can also be re-oriented. So (CSIR) is being asked to start earning money. How are they going to start earning money?  You have to find a way to plug CSIR into the innovative system in Ghana, and then the budgetary dollars go to the right entrepreneurs.?

He was speaking at the first Annual Africa Innovation Forum in Accra under the theme, ?Unleashing Innovation Leadership in Africa.? The forum was organised by the International Foundation for Africa Innovation with support from Access Bank Ghana and the Business and Financial Times.

The Public Procurement Act 2003 regulates the procurement activities of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), public educational Institutions, and government-subvented agencies.

Though it is meant to ensure transparency and check corruption through a rigorous tender and evaluation process that picks the best qualified company, it presents a challenge to local companies with low capacity, which often have to compete with large multinationals to win government contracts.

The Public Procurement Board (PPB), in view of this, has proposed the establishment of a separate Regional Tender Review Committee (RTRC) to allow for greater procurement autonomy in Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

This, the Board believes, will facilitate and support government?s desire to accelerate decentralisation at the local government level. It will also focus MMDAs? procurement on local entities that have the capacity to provide the required goods or services.

Some business leaders in the interim have called for the Public Procurement Authority to exercise its right in awarding contracts on ?sole-sourcing basis? in favour of local companies as long as they satisfy the conditions specified in Section 40 of Act 663.

They say there should be a protective mechanism whereby tenders are invited from only local companies for the procurement of specific goods which are manufactured locally. 

By Dominick Andoh

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