Media innovation to support citizen engagement in public procurement

July 23, 2019

On July 22, the Nation Media Group (NMG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on an Open Contracting (OC) portal that will provide the general public with open data on public procurement.

The OC portal will connect with relevant media stories, host fact-based storytelling and provide information for researchers. It will also keep procurement-related stories in the public eye after their initial publication. This portal aims to be the premier resource tool for journalists across Kenya to help them produce timely and informed stories on public procurement issues. It will be hosted by the Nation Media Group and developed in collaboration with Hivos East Africa and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya).

Promoting transparency and accountability

Speaking during the MoU signing, (on behalf of  NMG’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Gitagama) the Group Editorial Director, Mutuma Mathiu lauded the new partnership as a move that will enhance its role as a public watchdog. “This partnership will entrench the Group’s mission of positively transforming society by promoting transparency and accountability in public resource management.” This initiative will enable the Group to shine a light on dark areas and help citizens interrogate government decisions on public procurement.

One of our major goals as an institution is to see that citizens are well informed about the use of public funds in procurement.

Hivos East Africa’s Regional Director, Mendi Njonjo, pledged continued support for the partnership as a move to encourage citizen engagement in demanding transparency and accountability in public procurement. ‘’One of our major goals as an institution that advocates for the adoption of open contracting is to see that citizens are well informed about the use of public funds in procurement, and that citizens receive the critical goods and services they need in a timely and efficient way,’’ she said.

Open Contracting Portal about public procurement
From left to right: Kwame Owino (Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Economic Affairs), Mutuma Mathiu (Group Editorial Director at the Nation Media Group) and Mendi Njonjo (Hivos East Africa’s Regional Director)

“That the Government of Kenya spends a lot of money raised through taxes is not news to Kenyans. Our view is that we need to complete the circle of understanding by putting information on process and money spent into prominent view. Through scrutiny and disclosure, we expect that any deliberate infractions of procurement law will become evident and Kenyans will demand that all public officers be better stewards of the public treasury,” added Kwame Owino, CEO of IEA-Kenya.

According to statistics from the Uwezo Fund, public procurement deals in Kenya for the supply of essential goods and services to citizens in all counties are estimated to be worth Kshs. 1.6 trillion (13.8 billion euros). Essentially, efficient public procurement is often the best indicator of socio-economic transformation, particularly for marginalized groups such as women, youth and persons with disability.

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About NMG

Nation Media Group PLC is an independent multi-media organization which operates print, broadcast and digital media outlets in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. Nation Media Group (NMG) is a pan-East African media house established in 1959, and is the second largest publicly listed multimedia company in Africa. It was founded by His Highness, the Aga Khan, with the commitment to champion independent African voices, diversity, freedom of expression, democracy for emerging democratic Africa, and to be a strong advocate for free market economies.

It has operations in print, broadcast and digital media, which attract and serve unparalleled audiences in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as well as globally. It publishes the Daily Nation and Taifa Leo newspaper brands in Kenya, The EastAfrican regional newspaper, the Daily Monitor in Uganda, and the Mwananchi, The Citizen and Mwanaspoti newspapers in Dar es Salaam and a raft of e-papers and other online content assets. Also in its stable are NTV Kenya, and NTV and Spark television stations as well as KFM and Dembe radios in Uganda. It also owns the Nation FM radio in Kenya among other brands in the region.

About IEA-Kenya

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya) is a think tank that provides a platform for informed discussions in order to influence public policy in Kenya. We seek to promote pluralism of ideas through open, active and informed debate on public policy issues. We undertake research and conduct public education on key economic and topical issues in public affairs in Kenya and the region, and utilize the outcomes of the research for policy dialogue and to influence policy making.