A mechanism to facilitate the Indian Ocean Commission's (IOC) initiative of pooled procurement is expected to be completed by the end of the year and come into effect in 2024, said a Seychelles government official.
The permanent liaison officer for the IOC in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ralph Agrippine, told SNA that the initiative will help its member countries "have better bargaining power with suppliers once it comes into place."
Seychelles' foreign minister, Sylvestre Radegonde who attended the 37th Council of Ministers which took place in Madagascar, brought the idea forward during an IOC meeting and encouraged Mauritius and other members to join.
Among the decisions taken at the meeting was the adoption of a new Strategic Development Plan (SDP) for the next five years, support for the continuation of IOC actions toward the full operationalisation and consolidation of the regional maritime safety architecture and the invitation to the General Secretariat to pursue the reflection on a regional grouped procurement mechanism.
Pooled procurement combines several countries into a single unit to make purchases and this helps in reducing prices of goods and providing countries with collective bargaining power to navigate access to better quality products.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, which relies heavily on imported goods, has to pay higher prices for its imports as its market share is quite small.
"We are also looking into the possibility of including other African countries close to the IOC," said Agrippine.
The plan to import items as a group will not "include all goods, but will cater for essentials," he added.
Agrippine said, "One thing that would have to be done is to establish a procurement agency which will be tasked with determining what needs to be imported in the region."
He explained that the IOC was looking at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States' (OECS) as an example as it already has such a mechanism in place.
Once in place, some countries will be able to buy some goods in bulk and at other times they may receive assistance in order to buy the items that they are the only ones using.
However, Agrippine revealed that such a mechanism already existed when importing medicines and health related items.
The IOC already launched the Regional Programme for Food Security and Nutrition, supported by the FAO in Seychelles, in March 2019. Through this platform, member states are able to do business and trade of agricultural products between themselves.
The Indian Ocean Commission is an intergovernmental organisation linking Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles.
Source: Seychelles News Agency