How Rwanda became the first Africa country with an electronic procurement system

In an effort to reduce corruption, improve transparency and efficiency, and minimize potential collusion among bidders, several countries are establishing electronic government procurement systems, also known as e-GP systems.

Rwanda is one of those countries. In fact, it is the first African country to implement an e-GP system nationally, and in a shorter span of time compared to other countries. Rwanda’s e-GP journey has the potential of creating a ripple effect across the continent and beyond. How did they do it?

Behind the success

After passing a new procurement law in 2007, and later establishing the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority, the country began looking at relevant experiences on how to modernize its procurement system. Rwandan officials, for example, traveled to the Republic of Korea to learn from that country’s electronic procurement system, one of the most advanced in the world.

Then, in 2013, the Rwandan government approached the World Bank to fund a feasibility study on the implementation of its e-GP system. The feasibility study identified major challenges and recommended solutions. Some the challenges included: inconvenient business registration; inaccurate management information & analytics; lack of one-stop procurement portal; and inefficient document and records management system.

Based on the recommendations to tackle these challenges, Rwanda decided to develop the Rwanda e-GP system called  UMUCYO, which means “Transparency” in the local language. UMUCYO, a web-based e-Procurement system, was developed as part of a World Bank-funded Public-Sector Reform Program-for-Results.

About UMUCYO

The system consists of an online portal with modules for advertisement, e-bidding and disposal, evaluation, contract management, inspection and acceptance, framework agreements, catalog and shopping mall, where suppliers can register and submit bids online. The system is open to all, including national and foreign bidders. During the registration process the system automatically access the databases from the Rwanda Development Board to authenticate the registration status of bidders to make sure they are in good standing.

After a bid is accepted, for example, the system allows contract drafting and sending it to the winning bidder for review. After the supplier accepts and electronically signs the contract, the contract is shared with the Rwanda’s Financial Management Information System (SmartFMS) to issue a purchase order and to make payments.