Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern Sudan Report
Introduction and Objectives of the Mission
The first in-country Seminar on Awareness and Sensitization of the COMESA Public procurement framework, under the EPRCP project took place on 21st and 22nd October 2009 held at Juba Bridge Hotel, Southern Sudan. The objective of the seminar was to under take Awareness and Sensitization Workshop for the public sector officials and key members of the private sector on the on-going COMESA economic integration arrangements and also on the need for undertaking procurement.
The mission was conducted under the following specific expected outcomes:
- both public and private sector officials are sensitized on the COMESA regional integration agenda and its various components and/or programmes.
- both public and private sector officials are sensitized on trade development in COMESA in respect to the free trade area and customs union. in addition presentations will be made on trade facilitation instruments such as the COMESA rules of origin, the simplified trade regime and the NTBs monitoring mechanism.
- agreement on framework required to develop a national procurement law and regulations that are consistent with the COMESA procurement directive and regulations.
- well drafted procurement bill and regulations for Southern Sudan, and; well trained procurement cadres able to manage the modern public procurement systems of COMESA and in particular those of Southern Sudan.
- COMESA secretariat staff gets a better understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic set-up of southern Sudan.
- a preliminary outline of projects and programmes that could be supported by COMESA in southern Sudan.
- Actual Findings and Impact on COMESA’s Regional Integration Agenda
- Sensitizing the public sector officials and key members of the private sector on the on-going COMESA economic integration arrangements
- The Seminar was well attended by different sections of the public service officials and private sectors. Key among the Government officials who attended the opening was the Minster of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the Acting Under Secretary, for Commerce and Industry, Mr. John K. Pan Paguir and the Director General of Procurement, Mr. Christopher Lobojo.
- Dr. Chungu Mwila, Director of Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development, who was head of the COMESA delegation, briefly pointed out the areas of cooperation outlined in the Treaty establishing COMESA, adopted in Kampala, in the Republic of Uganda in 1993.
Review of progress of Trade Initiatives in COMESA
- The Seminar was informed that concerning to the Trade Initiatives in COMESA the challenges of Sudan in COMESA, such as administration of the COMESA Rules of origin, enhancing competitiveness of domestic industries, diversification of the export base to avoid over-reliance on a few exports, high cost of doing business, lack of market information, and improvement of infrastructure such as, roads, railways, telecommunications services and energy supply to enhance efficiency in production.
- Further the participants were informed about the regional efforts at Tripartite level, COMESA, EAC and SADC to form a single FTA, and eventually to establish a single customs union and to eliminate NTBs; with a work program covers other areas for harmonization such as, infrastructure, energy, trade in services, movement of business persons, customs procedures, health and technical standards, unfair trade practices, and institutional arrangements.
- Following the presentation, the participants pointed out the importance of NTBs coordination, to facilitate trade in the COMESA Customs Union. They also addressed the issue of lack of infrastructural connectivity in the region and the issue of loss of revenue due to implementing the COMESA FTA. The participants also urged COMESA to raise the role of the private sector in the regional integration process.
Review of progress in Agriculture and Private Sector Affairs
- The Seminar was informed that the Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development made a presentation on the overview of COMESA Agricultural Development Programmes and the Private Sector.
- The Seminar noted the importance of promoting Safe intra and extra COMESA agricultural commodity marketing through harmonization of SPS measures and enhancing accessibility to Agricultural Market Information, and the provisions and in recognition of the pivotal role of business in economic growth and development, COMESA established a private sector driven and owned COMESA Business Council (CBC).
Background to public procurement reforms initiatives
- The Seminar was informed that the importance of Awareness and Sensitization of the procurement reform framework to raise needed support among key stakeholders in the member States for the successful implementation and results of the EPRCP. The presentation and discussion of this particular module covered major elements which characterized Member States’ procurement regimes and the attendant weaknesses which they included.
- The Seminar noted that the baseline data diagnostic survey report under PPRP identified a number of obstacles which faced the member States which can be summed up as; (i) deficiencies in legislative authority and procurement practices; (ii) weak institutional capacities to develop and implement public procurement policies; (iii) restrictions against fair competition; (iv) lack of information on public procurement opportunities; and (v) revenue loss through non-transparent practices.
2.5 Presentation of Public Procurement Regulations of GOSS
- The Seminar was informed that the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) did not have much capacity in public procurement and as such had hired a Procurement Agent to assist both Goss and MDTF Procurement. He stated that currently there is no Procurement Law but that they were in the process of hiring a Consultant to draft one but the Government is committed to promulgate a law on Public Procurement by the New Year 2010. Meanwhile, all MDTF procurement is conducted using the World Bank Guidelines and all Goss Procurement is conducted using Interim Public Procurement & Disposal Regulations, 2006 (IPPDR).
- The Seminar noted that without a Procurement Law with adequate sanctions against wrongdoers in place, it is very difficult to enforce discipline and ensure that international procurement best practices are followed. Further the participants were informed that the GOSS has not embarked on transacting E-Procurement due to the absence of requisite IT infrastructure.
COMESA Directive and Regional Procurement Regulations
- The Seminar was also introduced to the COMESA Directives which provide general guidance to countries seeking to reform and modernize their procurement systems and align them with international and best practices models. Following its issuance in 2003 the following Member States had enacted a stand-alone law on public procurement: Burundi, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia. A further five countries, namely, Comoros, Egypt, Djibouti, Sudan and Sudan, were expected to come on Board in the near future.
- Recommendations and Way Forward
During the plenary session, the participants made the following recommendations:
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan connect to the fibre optic cable in neighboring countries through the Easy project;
- Southern Sudan is in the process of re-construction and development and as such COMESA should assist Southern Sudan in sourcing finances for constructing a portion of the road, between Juba and Lokichogio, being built to the proposed port of Lamu for its importation and exportation needs. It should also assist in mobilization of funding to build infrastructure, such as constructing of high ways, railways, river transport and civil aviation to cover Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Central Africa Republic
- COMESA should through the Chamber of Commerce of Southern Sudan support the private sector development and its programmes, such as entrepreneurship development, micro finance, business plan competitions, and support to SMEs;
- COMESA should assist the Chamber of Commerce in building the capacity of local entrepreneurs to enable them participate competitively in the market;
- COMESA should assist in the establishment of entrepreneurship resource centers in all the ten States of Southern Sudan;
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan under its various capacity building programmes and under technical assistance schemes to overcome challenges in trade and other regional integration programmes, so that Southern Sudan can also benefit from all initiatives under implementation.
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan develop Market infrastructure and assist in sourcing finances for the building of a central market for wholesale goods and fresh produce;
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan to especially source investment into agriculture so as to lessen dependence on imports of agricultural products;
- COMESA should work with Southern Sudan in the area of Standards development to ensure safe trade in animal, food and plant products, as Southern Sudan does not at the moment have any set of standards to follow.
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan in achieving international standards for its products;
- COMESA should work with Southern Sudan to enable it participate directly in certain programmes of COMESA and should create a desk at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry which will include other stakeholders to coordinate COMESA programmes in Southern Sudan;
- COMESA should undertake capacity building for Southern Sudan and also hold more awareness workshops and courses on COMESA and its programmes, in all the ten States of of Southern Sudan;
- COMESA should assist with the establishment of a postal service exchange office in Juba, Southern Sudan, to facilitate easier communication
- COMESA should pursue programmes relating to free movement of persons within COMESA so that the requirement to obtain Visas is removed from all Member States;
- COMESA should extend its awareness and sensitization programme to all the ten of Southern Sudan, and also involve the media;
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan in specific areas of agriculture and more specifically in financing the purchase of certain agricultural machinery and tools which could be sold at subsidized prices in Southern Sudan, particularly in the rural areas;
- Southern Sudan should make use of the COMESA safeguard measures to protect its local and infant industries in the interim.
- COMESA should assist Southern Sudan in the development of its procurement laws by closely working with the office of public procurement.
- COMESA should help Southern Sudan to develop its ICT (e-commerce, e-procurement and e-government).
- COMESA should help Southern Sudan to develop its ICT (e-commerce, e-procurement and e-government).
- COMESA should work with Southern Sudan in the development of renewable energy resources;
- COMESA should promote and support the participation of Southern Sudan in international and regional trade exhibitions so as to enhance its competitiveness regionally and internationally.