Government has been going out of its way to empower local businesses and individuals through tenders within the past two years.
It has floated billion dollars worth of tendered projects including the multimillion dollar Army food supply tender, the controversial N$2.4b Nerckatal Dam tender (the largest tender project since independence) and the bed supply tender for State-owned clinics.
In total, the Government’s tendering process could easily go above N$5b within the next three years.
However, the question that is still to be answered is whether or not the local companies that benefit from the Government procurement system have the capacity to execute the projects at the same rate as foreign companies do.
The other thorny question is whether or not the locals have taken a niche from the foreign companies they participate with in local projects through joint ventures, to do the jobs alone without any foreign support.
Arguably, questions on whether or not the local entrepreneur has mastered the art of executing a project in as short and profitable time as the foreign entrepreneur, still linger years after Government made a promise to help locals benefit in local procurement projects.
Locals still have to prove that their project execution in public projects is efficient and competitive enough to cut out the foreign contingents that have been spearheaded by the Chinese, Italians, South Africans and to a lesser extent, some German companies.
If stock taking and follow-ups are to be done on all projects that Government has thus far given to Chinese contractors to execute within a certain period of time, more often than not, the Chinese companies always hit the target within the stipulated timeframe.
That is a good plus for them and in most cases, cuts down the costs for them and assures quick profit making. The same (high execution) should equally be something the locals should emanate if they are to improve both their project completion rate and quality as well as create opportunities to bid for even more projects within a certain timeframe.
Turn an eye to the local companies that would have benefited from the same public procurement process. Chances are, some projects are pending and escalating in costs while the set timeframes have not been met in other cases.
That augurs badly for the local benefactors with a Government eager to give more to its citizens as the companies that are usually given the projects end up finishing the jobs way beyond the targeted time limit.
In actual fact, local entrepreneurs who benefit from the Government’s vibrant empowerment programme through local tendering should go back to the drawing board and learn more on executing tender jobs in time and with minimum costs.