After a decade-long crisis, Côte d’Ivoire was in urgent need investment to both maintain and expand its infrastructure networks. To accelerate the economy’s recovery and jump-start activity, the government awarded a number of no-bid contracts to expedite the tendering process, stating that priority projects needed to be fast-tracked, as happened with the Henri Konan Bédié toll bridge in Abidjan, which was awarded to outside competitive tendering.

Yet this lack of competition in public procurement has sparked concerns of transparency and unequal bidding practices. This has in turn prompted the government to look to build a more robust and accountable regulatory system, in part to ensure fairness in all tendering procedures and compliance with international standards and best practice.


The government awarded public contracts to the value of CFA687.69bn (€1.03bn) in 2013. Approximately 56% of the total sum, or CFA387.33bn (€581m), was awarded via no-bid contracts. This represents a significant jump of 138.4% on 2012 figures, according to the National Public Procurement Regulation Authority (Autorité Nationale de Regulation Marchés Publics, ANRMP). Contracts awarded in a discretionary manner have become larger in value: while the total value of no-bid contracts increased, the number of projects fell from 1148 in 2012 to 1090 in 2013. The greater value in 2013 may in part be due to projects left over from 2012, as government officials have claimed in the local press.

Move To Improve

In its June 2014 report, the IMF urged Côte d’Ivoire to reduce the amount of no-bid contracts it awarded to clamp down on corruption and bid-rigging. At a time when the country is turning to international markets to finance its large-scale public infrastructure projects, no-bid contracts are viewed as constraining overall competition and resulting in inflated project costs.

“Efforts are made to pay and better manage the country’s internal debt,” Georgine Codo Adja, managing-director at BNI Finances, told OBG. “But we need to watch out for the increasing amount of nobid contracts, and make sure they are not over-valued and do not inflate debt,” she added.

Procurement Code

Côte d’Ivoire boasts a relatively strong legal framework for public procurement, even if compliance has been limited. A new procurement code was adopted on August 6, 2009, which included key amendments such as the creation of the ANRMP to serve as the government watchdog for public procurement processes.

In charge of monitoring good governance in public procurement, ANRMP has the authority to apply sanctions and cancel contracts that do not comply with public procurement regulations. Hence, the ANRMP has launched a series of audits through its independent investigative branch.

In 2013, for example, the body audited the purchasing system of medicines by public entities, and concluded that given the number of recorded instances of fraud, the tender was not awarded in accordance with the regulations (sanctions were not disclosed in the auditor’s report).

More broadly, with support from the World Bank, the ANRMP launched a comprehensive audit of all no-bid contracts awarded by six ministries between 2011 and 2013. Although the results were expected to be released in 2014, they had yet to be disclosed at the time of publication.

While the significant effort by Côte d’Ivoire’s authorities to expedite major infrastructure projects is laudable, the quality of the spending is as important as the values involved, and more recently the authorities have undertaken greater steps to tighten up the transparency and accountability of public tendering mechanisms.

As Côte d’Ivoire moves to broaden the sources of foreign direct investment and tap into international debt markets, the ability to ensure clear procurement procedures over the coming years is crucial.