By Treezer Michelle Atieno
Questions of whether Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) is benefiting its target group are on the rise. Nine years after the government launched AGPO to enable women, youth and persons with disabilities to access public procurement opportunities, many individuals in the target are unsure if the program is beneficial to them.
AGPO, launched in 2013, mandates all public procurement entities to set aside at least 30% of their procurement opportunities to enterprises owned by the above target groups.
A recent impact assessment on AGPO’s implementation by KEPSA, Maribel-Hermans Associates and other stakeholders revealed the program’s challenges.
The assessment report indicates that since AGPO’s launch, 173,000 registrations are within the three categories: youth, women and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), with the youth being the most registered. Women have received the most opportunities (50%), followed by the youth and then PWD’s respectively, with KES. 30 million as the highest tender awarded, going to a PWD.
According to the report, the low uptake of AGPO and a few tender awards to the target group is because of lack of accountability and transparency in the agreements and from procurement entities, plus delayed payment, non-payment, and lack of access to financial support.
The report describes the AGPO tender process as discriminatory to new entrants in the requirements section, requiring them to provide audited accounts, bank statements, and proof of similar work.
Unfortunately, there is no punishment in the law against the procuring entities for failing to pay or delay paying the suppliers and for failing to provide feedback to the suppliers who never won.
While the AGPO is an excellent program and can benefit many Kenyans through job creation and inclusion, the report suggests ways in which it can maximize its effectiveness. They include training for the targeted groups to access AGPO, arbitration support between parties, awareness creation for AGPO to increase uptake by the target, reinforcement of a 30-day payment period for the suppliers and having designated desks for AGPO within institutions for easy access and negotiations.