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Making procurement effective at this time

By Daniel Rading | May 12th 2020 | 3 min read

The coronavirus outbreak has brought the world to a halt. Businesses have been hit hard, with many firms closing down to protect employees from the coronavirus. Global freight clearing and forwarding has been hugely and negatively impacted, leading to a decline in the economic growth of most countries. 

The Kenyan government, through the Ministry of Health, has come up with policies aimed at containing the spread of this virus. Sensitisation programmes, both in print and electronic media have borne fruit in the fight against Covid-19. However, a lot still needs to be done in managing the flow of people and goods across the country. 

Disruptions in the global supply chain have led to both disruptions and opportunities in the entire supply chain. First, our exports have reduced due to travel restrictions. Air transportation has been negatively affected with Kenya Airways reducing the number of trips to various parts of the world. The flow into markets of raw materials, semi-finished products, goods and services has been highly restricted with additional inspection/acceptance/quality check measures that delay the movement in both the upstream and downstream supply chain networks.

The government is currently investing heavily in personal protective equipment (PPE) for the frontline teams, medical supplies and consumables in a bid to suppress the virus. During this crucial time in our history, the normal procurement process cannot be undertaken and therefore most procuring entities have embarked on direct sourcing so as to meet the unpredictability of this menace.

Substandard goods

Direct sourcing needs to be carefully implemented and integrated with sustainability of all the activities involved and in accordance with the legal framework. It shouldn’t provide an avenue for the dumping of substandard goods and must not be a conduit to siphon public assets. Focus should be shifted on goods that can be re-used to enhance value and minimise disposal costs in the long run.

The goods currently being produced must, therefore, conform to quality metrics so that the future expectations are incorporated with social and economic responsibilities. Environmental and social commitment plan must be formulated and carefully implemented by taking into account the views of the key stakeholders. It will make no sense when we buy a product to help us curb the spread of the virus, only to realise that it accelerates the spread of the same.

Therefore, identification/screening of suppliers and negotiation of longer strategic supplier alliances will not only help in the current fight but will help safeguard the objectives on longer term.

Local firms

Secondly, the Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed to the government that we have the capacity to produce most products locally. What we lackis good leadership and corporate governance. The production of surgical masks at Kitui County Textile Centre and ventilators at Kenyatta University attests to our potential. Importantly, such production can boost our small and medium enterprises, which should be encouraged to supply their products to local and global markets.

I foresee a future where products like clothing will be adequately produced by our local firms. Imports of clothes could be disallowed if the government is committed to improving our textile industry. Political goodwill and transformational leadership would help Kenyan industries transform the shortcomings of the pandemic into opportunities that will help grow local industries, create jobs, improve our health standards through better quality products at affordable prices. Young entrepreneurs should think about innovative ways of mitigating the threats of spread of the pandemic and take advantage of the current situation to improve their firms.

The government needs to continuously engage supply chain management practitioners at the corporate decision-making levels to offer appropriate advise throughout the supply chain networks. Optimisation of supply chain efficiency and leveraging on the use of information and communication technology has led to gains in combating the virus by ensuring timely supply of the needed equipment with the help of employees working from home to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The disposal of medical equipment and supplies must consider environmental issues to deter citizens from, for instance, collecting dumped masks, washing them and reselling them, which could lead to rise in infections. Bio-degradable items are therefore better during such times, and used protective gear must be disposed of with great care.

- Mr Rading is a supply chain management practitioner

Covid 19 Time Series


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