By Mildred Siabi-Mensah, GNA Special Correspondent, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Courtesy CoST UK
Addis Ababa, Oct. 9, GNA - An Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) workshop has opened in Addis Ababa with a call on procurement entities and governments to make the procurement cycle of projects transparent and participatory to curtail mismanagement and corruption.
The heavily technical nature of construction, the huge volume of transaction, lengthy procurement, inherent uncertainties in relation to cost and time and the vast spatial diversification had given room for doubt as to whether contractors and city authorities really made good use of budget allocations.
Mr Wedo Atto, the Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee of Ethiopia, who opened the Workshop, organized for the Africa Regional Multi Stakeholder Group and CoST Champions, said mismanagement continued to be the greatest challenge for realising infrastructure development.
It bought together 35 country managers and multi stakeholder groups from Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi to learn and develop national and regional strategies for implementation for infrastructure projects.
The CoSt is the leading global initiative improving Transparency and accountability in public infrastructure headquartered in the United Kingdom.
It works with governments, private sector and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects to inform citizens and empower them to hold decision makers accountable.
The information to be disclosed must centre around project purpose, location, specification, cost, contractor and completion dates and justification for any significant differences between budgeted for and what eventually was constructed and paid for.
It notes that informed citizens and responsive public institutions help to drive the needed reforms that ensured mismanagement, inefficiencies, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor infrastructure are minimised.
Mr Atto said expanding infrastructure was critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and that it was about time mismanagement, resulting in poor and shoddy works and even lost of lives, were resolved and a new theory of change adopted for Africa's progress.
He said the concept of CoST ultimately would allow for better lives from better infrastructure when its tenets were fully adhered to by member countries, procurement entities and stakeholders in the construction sector.
He noted that the Government of Ethiopia was attempting to provide the needed regulations that enabled the enforcement of disclosure of project information through the Procurement and Property Administration Proclamation and Associated Directive.
The current reforms Ethiopia was undergoing were in tune with CoST’s objectives and as Africans sought to advance infrastructure transparency, more attention should be paid to a system of proactive disclosure, Mr Atto said.
"The direction of emphasis should, therefore, be making transparency a norm in all procuring entities through a synergetic efforts with institutions and I believe one of the core deliberations of the Regional Workshop should be evaluating the efforts towards introduction of a system of proactive disclosure".
Ms Evelyn Hernandez, from the International Secretariat, UK, updated participants on the new governance structure, Terms of Reference for the Multi stakeholder Group and the need for a review of the Constitution of the various participating countries to enhance good governance.
Mr Gilbert Sendugwa, CoST Uganda, updated members on how the International Secretariat, International Board and Regional Management Team were delivering on their mandate.
The CoST has launched new and improved tools including open contracting for infrastructure data standards and infrastructure transparency index.
All five participating countries shared successes, challenges and lessons learnt since the commencement of the initiative in their respective countries.