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Provincial exposition: Role of procurement

A NEW, interesting and economically viable phenomenon in the name of provincial exhibitions have hit the country.
The exhibitions showcase investment opportunities in various regions.
Luapula Province was the first to host such an event and opened doors to potential investments in various sectors of the economy.
The exhibition was a success and sold the province, in particular, and the country as a whole to would-be investors.
Central Province was the second to host the event and it showcased the various opportunities it has and invited potential investors to seize the readily available opportunities, especially that it is centrally located.
The event was successfully hosted and entrepreneurs had an opportunity to explore and make plans for future investments.
Northern Province was the third in line to host the event.
The province showcased its rich natural resources such as the famous Lake Tanganyika, Lake Chila, the great Kalambo Falls, Chishimba Falls, Lumangwe Falls, and Kabwelume Falls, to mention but a few. The event was held alongside the centenary celebrations to mark 100 years after the end of World War One, which ended in Zambia.
Hosting an expo is no easy task as it is very demanding and calls for dedication, determination and discipline. As you prepare for the expo, the province is required to lift its face starting from painting most of the key infrastructure in order to beautify the province, rehabilitation of roads to make them better and passable to potential investors and all the invited guests, printing shirts and T-shirts for distribution to all the guests and printing brochures and magazines so as to market the province. Hire of different services is critical and is undertaken at this stage.
With all this said, what is therefore the role of procurement? During this period, the province will need to engage various contractors to undertake construction works and rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure and sometimes construction of new infrastructure. Tendering now comes into play. This is the critical role of procurement. At this point, time is running out and the goal must be achieved before the commencement of the expo.
Giving a pragmatic example of the Northern Province Expo, where I was privileged to be a delegate, procurement practitioners tendered for maintenance works at one of the important historical sites, the Von Lettow Vorbeck heritage site, which is now a tourist site for World War One, located in Kasama just next to the Chambeshi Bridge.
The cenotaph in Mbala had to be tendered and renovated in the quickest possible time because it was meant to host invited delegates from around the world, including representatives of the British government. Kasama airport received a remarkable facelift through tendering so as to accommodate larger aircraft. Samora Machel Air Base in Mbala underwent rehabilitation in order to receive international delegates and large aircraft. Various infrastructure in the province had received a facelift.
All these tasks required a formidable procurement unit to carry out all procurements. Secondly, the procurement practitioners had to invest long hours of working and needed to be on call in case of an emergency. During such times there is no room for mistakes because any delay will lead to late completion of the works and will not attract the delegates, especially potential investors
Consultants are equally engaged to professionally plan the event and give full updates to the provincial administration as a procuring entity. The procurement unit carefully tenders and selects a suitable consultant, who will be entrusted to run the event on behalf of the province as the event manager.
The appropriate tendering method is vital at this stage because any delay in the procurement process will lead to delayed implementation and this may jeopardise the whole event. In order to conduct procurement within the given time frame, alternative procurement methods such as limited bidding, limited selection and direct bidding are used. This is because there is urgent need for goods, works and services such that engaging in open bidding and selection would be impractical.
The Public Procurement Act number 12 of 2008, Sections 29 (1), (2) (a) and (b), 30 (1), (2) (a) and (b), 31 (1) and (2), 32 (1), (2) (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) read together with Statutory Instrument number 63 of 2011, Regulations 14 (a), (b), (c) and (d), 15 (a), (b), (c) and (d), 16 (1), (2) (a), (b) and (c) and 17 become very vital if procurements are to be achieved on time and if the ultimate objective is to be met.
For low value items, it is advantageous to move quickly with the procurement process considering that a simplified procurement method is engaged.
Zambia is part of a global village, hence the need to market it through the uniqueness of each province.
The author is former chairperson for Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply – Zambia.