Open contracting is vital to improving government, fighting corruption, fostering business growth, encouraging innovation and protecting citizens. When government contracting and procurement is open, citizens can actively participate in ensuring that the the essential services and infrastructure they rely on meets their needs. Similarly, this creates markets where entrepreneurship can flourish.
From November 28-29, around 200 of the best and brightest innovators, advocates and practitioners in this field from over 37 countries came together to share opportunities, challenges and transformative ideas at the Open Contracting Global Conference. The conference was convened by the Open Contracting Partnership, CoST, Article 19, Hivos, Reboot and the B Team. The diverse group of actors and conveners came together to put user-driven solutions and collaborative results for the public sector, businesses and citizens front and center. Importantly, the private sector was pivotal in many of the event’s conversations and attendees collaborated around how to progress business involvement in the area.
It is clear that the private sector has a strong interest and role to play in supporting government action to reform procurement markets so they are open, competitive, efficient and free of corruption. Many business leaders know this and are taking action. However, there is still work to be done to develop and utilize a strong business case to engage them to play an active role in advocating for open contracting.
The conference was a productive moment to push progress forward and tangible outcomes were achieved. Commitments were made to bring more private sector leadership onboard with the open contracting agenda, and concrete plans to take action at the country level, with a B Team-led pilot for a private sector project in Kenya.
Working in collaboration with Invest in Africa, Hivos, the World Economic Forum, Safaricom and other partners, The B Team plans to mobilize private sector support for open contracting in Kenya. This project will recruit a group of companies to develop and promote leadership practices, like those of the African Partner Pool, that enables easier and more transparent access to opportunities for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Additionally, The B Team will work to bring the private sector into the development of Kenya’s OGP National Action Plan and involve Kenya-based partners in the long-term research project on the concrete benefits of open contracting to governments and the private sector.
Beyond these commitments, there were many more important moments and learnings that will contribute to real impact. To learn more, read our event report here.
Photo by Judith Quax