The World Bank Group is actively encouraging South African businesses to participate more actively in a $45-billion procurement opportunity that will arise over the coming three years as a result of a recently approved funding commitment to 39 low-income African countries.
Executive director for South Africa, Nigeria and Angola Bongi Kunene tells Engineering News Online that $70-billion has been allocated to International Development Association (IDA) projects since July 1, of which $45-billion has been set aside for Africa.
The projects include both social and economic infrastructure developments for execution by June 30, 2020 and Kunene says procurement activities cover everything from engineering feasibility studies and civil works to supply of school furniture and medical equipment.
During the previous three-year delivery period around 50% of the funding was directed towards economic infrastructure, with roads projects comprising around 40% of that infrastructure spend. During the current cycle, the largest business opportunities are expected to arise in the areas of energy, transport, information and communications technology and water.
Kunene, who is herself a South African, is keen for a higher level of participation by South African firms in the IDA projects, and is concerned by the prevailing lack of awareness of the opportunity amount domestic companies.
South African companies are fully eligible to participate both in Africa and globally, owing to South Africa being a World Bank shareholder and contributing to concessional funding for the world’s poorest countries.
Chief procurement officer Enzo de Laurentiis acknowledges that companies may feel intimidated by the perceived bureaucracy involved. However, he stresses that the bank’s procurement processes have been modernised and simplified, following the 2015 approval of the World Bank's new procurement framework.
The “business-friendly” framework emphasises transparency and De Laurentiis says updated project information is available online, along with the procurement documentation. “We have also improved our capacity to respond to procurement-related complaints.”
Kunene and De Laurentiis will showcase the opportunity to South African business at a workshop in Johannesburg on Friday and will also take participants through the bank’s bidding processes and offer advice on how to prepare a successful bid.
The workshop is being organised jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry and will take place at the Radisson Blu Gautrain, from 9:00 to 16:00.