Jambo! (“Hello” in Swahili)
Check out Part 1 here.
It’s my second day here in Nairobi – now with luggage and everything! My main activity was yesterday: presenting on the upstream strategic sourcing process and vendor risk issues, particularly those relevant to African companies working with US and European customers.
There were close to 50 attendees yesterday, and today’s spend analysis workshop drew about 35 people. Compared to similar conferences in the US, the participants here are evenly split between public/semi-public and purely private sector. Much of Kenyan business is still heavily involved with various government agencies, other non-government organizations or foreign-backed support organizations.
Kenya has a Public Procurement Act that aims at addressing corruption and similar unwanted procurement practices. These issues were clearly on the minds of many participants, as they frequently brought up ethics, fairness, political influence, and similar topics around how buyers should conduct themselves. The Public Procurement Act also specifies when open tendering becomes mandated. It appears that the Act, though well-intended, might be counterproductive in that some clauses could prevent a switch to modern e-sourcing solutions. I also question the philosophy behind requirements such as “the successful tender shall be the tender with the lowest evaluated price”—not exactly Best Value or TCO sourcing. Judging by the many strong statements against corruption and the open sharing of success stories around preventing this, it seems that at least the attendees operate ethically and actively work to stamp out any such behavior in their organizations.
The audience has been extremely lively, especially in contrast to the quiet Asian audience that I spent time with in Singapore recently. From the sharing of daily challenges, the participants clearly covered the full range from “gofer” procurement (the “yes boss” req-to-PO clerks) to relatively senior buyers from both the direct and indirect side and with a few obviously well-trained and highly experienced buyers that would fit in at high levels in any best practice Global 1000 organization.
At the macro level, Kenya has a huge advantage as a country from being so close to quickly growing Asia. Kenyans have a proper legal system and a good command of the English language. I will explore Kenya’s strengths in more detail in my next post.