Kwame Prempeh is the Deputy CEO Public Procurement Authority (PPA)

Public Procurement is at the centre of the way public money is spent. Budgets are translated into services in large parts through the workings of the procurement system. The construction of schools, clinics, and roads, drilling of wells, as well as the acquisition of medicine and textbooks, occur in most countries through the nation’s public procurement system. Therefore, the ability of political leaders to meet their promises of economic and social improvements is closely related to how well public procurement functions.

Almost about three years ago, we met as stakeholders in the Public Procurement process, to launch Ghana’s e-procurement system dubbed Ghana Electronic Procurement System, i.e., GHANEPS. This singular effort made Ghana the first country in the West African sub-region to establish an electronic procurement system for the public sector.

We were honoured to have His Excellency the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia launched the system. The implementation is part of the eTransform project being undertaken by government through the Ministry of Communication with funding support from the World Bank.

I am happy to announce that since the launch of this system, it has been challenging but yet very successful.

eProcurement

e-Procurement or electronic procurement refers to the process of purchase of goods or services through electronic means, primarily the Internet. It is an alternative to the manual/paper process of procurement, and is certainly superior to the latter in many respects. Countries are increasingly opting for e-Procurement platforms, realizing its potential to curb irregularities and unnecessary costs in the procurement process.

In this regard, GHANEPS is very important to the Public Procurement Authority and the country as whole. When I took office, I was convinced about the importance of electronic procurement within our public procurement space and therefore made it a priority to ensure that GHANEPS implementation is executed efficiently to ensure that the nation reaps all its benefits.

Benefits of E-Procurement to the Public Sector

As an Authority, we are particularly driven by the inherent benefit of the system for transparency and restoration of public confidence in our public procurement system. For example, GHANEPS can tackle the malpractice of cartel formation to a great extent. It will ensure safety of all the information being provided by users. This data safety is at times compromised in the manual procurement process.

GHANEPSprovides an effective and efficient way of improving procurement while saving taxpayers money, all the more crucial as government faces increasing spending pressures.

Use of online services for procurement activities gives wider participation of service providers leading to increased competition. It also saves businesses time by speeding up order to delivery times and is a more sustainable way of doing business for government.

Transparency is ensured as evaluation and award process is conducted online with minimum human intervention. Information made available online by the e-procurement process enables interested parties such as civil societies, suppliers, contractors etc, to instantly access information associated with each tender and award process.

The costs associated with the procurement process like printing of tender & Contract Documents, evaluation meetings as well as publication of tenders in newspapers will be reduced in due cause.

E-procurement can also significantly reduce the price of materials and supplies and thereby increase competition.

GHANEPS FUNCTIONALITIES

It will interest you to know that, GHANEPS has been integrated with several other Government systems for efficient procurement workflow.

It is Connected to the system of the Register General’s department which helps retrieve the details of all service providers when they register with PPA. All they need is to provide their company TIN in the system.

It is also connected to the systems of the Ghana Revenue Authority and Social Security and National Insurance Trust to check the eligibility of companies partaking in public tenders in respect of their compliance on payment of taxes and social security for their employees.

It is also linked to the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to pass on information for ease and swift payment for Entities that are on GIFMIS.

GHANEPS can also be linked to other Enterprise Resource Planning System used by some of the public entities to create an end to end business process automation for these entities.

Implementation so far

The launch of GHANEPS ushered in the pilot run of the system with five Public Entities, which was also the last part of Phase one (1) of the implementation. The Pilot Entities were the Ghana Cocoa Board, Ghana Health Services, Tema Metropolitan Assembly, the Department of Feeder Roads and Koforidua Technical University which we would recognising and awarded for their effort in implementing the system.

With the lessons learnt after six months of piloting, and with a renewed approach and Strategy.

The Phase two, which has brought us here this afternoon, aims to Roll –Out GHANEPS to all Public Entities in the country within a period of three years in a phased manner.

With this phased approach, a small group of Public Entities are on boarded onto the system every month. Expectation is to have the over 660 Public Entities fully operational on the system by October 2023.

This phased long term approach was preferred above a big bang and/or swift short term Roll-Out for effective and efficient change management strategy that will increase the success of the implementation and enhance adoption of the system.

GHANEPS Secretariat

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government represented by PPA and the Ministry of Communication, the World Bank, and major stakeholders are well aware of the challenges that such technological implementation of this scale faces. Many implementations of such nature fail, not because of the capability of the system in question, but due to lapses in the change management strategy.

For this reason, a dedicated Secretariat has been set up by PPA to execute the strategic Roll-Out approach mentioned earlier. The Secretariat will be made up of a Roll-Out team of over 20 people when fully constituted. There are 12 people on the team already. The entire PPA is made up of about 70 staff. This tells you about the importance that I have placed on the optimum implementation of the system. Resourcing the secretariat is also a priority, therefore, due to lack space at the PPA head office at the Airport City in Accra, the GHANEPS secretariat is set to move into a newly furnished office at the Accra Digital Centre.  A training hub has also been established at this same location where all Public Entities and Suppliers are trained.

Progress & Statistics

GHANEPS trainings have been ongoing since November 2019. Over 150 training sessions have been provided to over 400 Public Institutions and 75 sessions to Service providers (suppliers, consultants and contractors). Over 2,200 Procurement officers and 2,400 management and other staff members of these institutions have been trained. Over 2200 Service providers have also been trained. A training session for Procurement officers is 5 days and the session for management and other staff is 1 day. The session for Service providers is also 1 day.

Mandatory use of the System

Due to the phased nature of the Roll-Out, the mandatory use of GHANEPS for Entities is, as and when the Entity is on boarded onto the system.

The Public Entities, Service providers and the general public are to take note that, Entities that are live on GHANEPS are urged to conduct all their procurement via the system. This includes Request for Quotation, National Competitive tendering, International Competitive Tendering, Restrictive Tendering and Single Source.  

You should also take note that, as more Entities and Service providers are on boarded onto GHANEPS, PPA will cease to process manual applications and request from Entities who are live on the system but are not active users of it. Directives in this regards will be issued separately very soon.

Entities using GHANEPS will also not need to separately upload their Procurement Plan on PPA’s Annual Procurement Plan system, publish their tenders on PPA’s website or publish their awarded contract on PPA’s website. The inherit automatic publications of GHANEPS ensures that the relevant parts of sub-sections 21(3), 47(1 & 4) and 65 (10c) are met when Entities use the system.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Government of Ghana is committed to its digitization agenda with GHANEPS as a typical example. All stakeholders acknowledge that, effective change management with sufficient training and support of users is key to the success of the implementation of GHANEPS.

In that respect, the sensitization that is done at the on-boarding stage of the Roll-Out, followed by training and subsequent onsite support provided by PPA to entities that start using the system at the PGLS stage, is being replicated to all the regions in Ghana one after the order.

In addition to this, the PPA has also set up a dedicated Helpdesk that will provide support to Entities and suppliers as and when required.

After here, the team returns back to the Central Region for the next Roll-Out.

Sooner or later, every single Public Entity in the country will go through this process and start using GHANEPS.

Procurement has taken a new turn with the slogan “Emu da hɔ”.

Kwame Prempeh

Deputy CEO

Public Procurement Authority



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