GACC & partners convene project on combating corruption in Health & Education in West Africa

By Rebecca Ekpe

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, (GACC) and PRADA, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is convening a Regional Project in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Benin on “Uniting Constituencies to Fight Corruption in Health and Education in West Africa.”

At the Inception Meeting and Data Collection Review held in Accra, on November 4, 2021 it became obvious that globally huge sums of public funds are spent through public procurement processes for all types of goods, services, and infrastructure in education and healthcare.

However, in many of these countries, procurement processes run a high risk of corruption, resulting in limited goods and services relative to the amount paid by the taxpayer for these goods and services.

Anti Corruption advocates, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, GACC say “this presents a considerable expense for most education and health budgets, especially in low and middle income countries’’.

Besides, it has devastating effects on the integrity and sustainability of education and health care systems, for a simple fact that;

“Corruption in Health care procurement can result in medicine shortages, inflated drug prices and infiltration of fake and sub –standard medicines into the HealthCare System’’.

“In education, it can result in inadequate infrastructure, poor quality infrastructure, inflated costs of services and ultimately lower education standards’’, according to the GACC.

This is why the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition,(GACC), SEND Sierra Leone, Benin and PRADA (Ghana), with funding support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), are undertaking a project to monitor corruption in procurement and service delivery in health and education in West Africa.

Bright Sowu, Head of Programs at the GACC said at the end of the day, ”Emergency procurement plans are developed and /or publicized”.

Furthermore, ” Systemic issues affecting efficiency and corruption in Public Procurement in education and health are addressed for greater efficiency and reduced corruption in Public procurement”.

In an exclusive interview, Mr. Sowu shared with Rebecca Ekpe some of the information on the scoping study done in Ghana, Benin and Sierra Leone.

” The procurement infractions are similar…artificial splitting of procurement packages, payment for no work done, wrongful elimination of some bidders, payment for shoddy work….it was quite interesting that in Sierra Leone, the Auditor General was calling for Civil Society to join the fray and push for implementation of audit recommendations just as Domelevo used to do”, he posited.

What were some good practices that could be learning points for each country?

Mr. Sowu had this to say.

”At least in Ghana and Sierra Leone, the procurement architecture is well established. Sierra Leone is the star in terms of enforcement though. Their NPPA (like our PPA) has done a lot in terms of checking value for money on single sourcing requests and rejecting a lot of requests. I will say they have committed leadership”, he noted.

But what could be the ultimate goal that the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition and its partners hope to achieve practically?

”There are some anti-corruption measures that we hope the countries will adopt in their procurement protocols. We are hoping that they will integrate beneficial ownership registers into their electronic procurements”

”We are hoping they will check for conflict of interest and collusion as routine practices in every procurement evaluation. Like you heard Mr. Agyemang say, there are some structural bulwarks against corruption that we can integrate into our current system to reduce the opportunities for fleecing the nation”, according to the GACC Head of Programs, Bright Sowu.

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