Life in Tanzania
I have now been in Tanzania for 3 months – time is really flying here. As a reminder, I am working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzanian working at the country office for Amref Health Africa. This office is responsible for implementing the projects that have been funded by donors (like GSK). My assignment here is to improve their current procurement process as currently the process is complex and unclear which is causing issues in the project teams such as delays in implementation and being over budget.
I was keen to visit the areas where we have projects to understand the work Amref is doing (think of the equivalent as being visiting one of manufacturing sites to meet the teams, see the processes and challenges). Recently I had the opportunity to visit Handeni in the Tanga district.
The first stop was at a borehole well which has been built as part of a Amref project. Construction is one of the most complex areas for procurement as the capability of construction companies is extremely varied and Amref often have issues with suppliers with them claiming for additional funds outside of the agreement and facing delays from the suppliers. I had requested to join the visit so I could understand what exactly a borehole well comprises of so I could better negotiate with the suppliers and ensure the contracts were robust.
How we procure goods and services at Amref is dictated by the Procurement Manual, a 65 page document that outlines how the procurement process works. One interesting part that is outlined in the manual is the fact we advertise all tenders in….the local newspaper. Suppliers pay a small fee to receive the tender document which they then use to submit their bid. Their bid document can be over 200 pages and must be submitted physically at our office, in our very old tender box. This means we almost exclusively work with local Tanzanian suppliers, something very different to procurement in GSK! All documentation (both from suppliers and internally) is kept physically in our procurement store. One of projects I was keen to kick off was a better way to organise our filing system – something that came apparent when we were going through an internal audit. The photo below shows what the filing room looked like during the audit – I still have nightmares!
Despite the challenges we face with procurement, Amref are doing some amazing work in the communities, working with the government to ensure projects are sustainable and have the most impact they can. The procurement process is there to ensure funds are spent ethically and to protect our reputation so we can continue to implement the projects to help those in need and with 55% of the population living in poverty – their work must continue.
Personally, I have found this experience eye-opening, working in a different country and culture has taught me more than I would have ever imagined. I am very thankful to GSK and my team to allow me to take part in this fantastic assignment.
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