(AfDB) - Creating space for more women in the African procurement market was at the heart of a technical workshop organised last Thursday and Friday by the African Development Bank.
The Bank is spearheading gender mainstreaming actions in procurement on the African continent. It held a technical workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, which agreed an action plan on implementing targets for the achievement of gender equality in Africa’s procurement sector and in the delivery of vital goods and services.
The two main objectives of the workshop were to bring senior policy makers together with business and civil society representatives to set the course for gender mainstreaming in public procurement in Africa and to share good practice and lessons learned from the experience of affirmative procurement measures.
The global procurement market is highly lucrative, and public procurement accounts for 10-15% of gross domestic product in developed countries and 30% in developing countries. With such significant amounts disbursed in the sector, public procurement is now considered a powerful means of achieving socio-economic objectives. However, women-owned businesses face disproportionately more challenges and have less access to funds in public procurement.
The Bank’s workshop addressed the disproportionate representation of women and the challenges women face in the African procurement sector and some of the solutions already proposed by some governments to fill the gap.
“In 2013, the Kenyan Government helped women’s enterprises and other disadvantaged groups by implementing a legal requirement that 30% of Government procurement spend should be set aside specifically for enterprises owned by women, youth and the disabled. This has provided women with more opportunities to do business with public entities at the national and country levels of government” said Mr. Maurice Juma, Director General of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority of Kenya.
Multilateral development banks (MDBs), like governments, spend large sums of money on procurement and have realised in the last few years that procurement not only has a fiduciary but also a strategic function, which can be used to promote gender equality in public procurement in their member countries.
As part of their role in gender mainstreaming in the procurement sector, MDBs have various tools at their disposal, such as project procurement, which entails incorporating conditions within the financing agreements and capacity building by supporting member countries to implement affirmative procurement frameworks, and support training for government agencies and women entrepreneurs.
“The Bank financed Chinsali-Nakonde Road Rehabilitation Project in Zambia, included an intervention to train women contractors for possible participation in routine road maintenance. Preparing women through capacity building ensured their participation in road construction programmes such as the Zambia Link 8000, L-400 and Pave Zambia 2000, proving the value of the Bank’s support” said a Bank representative.
The organisation of the workshop as well as the action plan developed during the workshop sessions form part of the Bank’s contribution to the efforts of the Multilateral Development Bank Working Group on Gender for the inclusion of more women in the procurement sector.