UN to explore expanding use of SA service providers at Procurement Summit


The United Nations will examine how it can further expand the base of South African companies that provide it with goods and services at the UN Procurement Summit on Friday 24 June, which will be attended by top officials from the UN’s supply chain division.

Atul Khare, the UN’s Under Secretary General for Operational Support, noted that the UN will always be guided by best value for money, but is keen to see how it can expand the base of South African suppliers in different areas, such as communications, armoured vehicles, and air transport.

Speaking at the launch of the sixth international Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping Symposium 2022, which runs from 21 to 24 June at the CSIR in Pretoria, Khare said the Procurement Summit on Friday will encourage more South African companies, both public and private, to participate in tenders and sell the UN solutions.

Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary General for Supply Chain Management, said the UN Secretariat purchases $2.7 billion worth of goods and services every year while the UN as a whole has an $18 billion annual procurement spend, with peacekeeping amounting to $6 billion.

“We buy thousands of different things every year,” he said, with South African companies receiving about $40 million a year in contracts, which is a relatively small amount. “We think the business community in South Africa has much more to offer. We buy everything from foodstuffs to transportation, aviation services, fuel,” Saunders added.

“We are not just interested in reaching out to large companies like Denel but small to medium enterprises, women owned businesses, businesses run by people with disabilities, the youth and the like. We would really like to explain UN procurement opportunities to South African businesses and wee if we can have a match and do more business with them in the future.”

With the cost of transport in particular rising due to Covid-19 supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, Saunders said it makes sense to buy as much as possible locally. As most UN peacekeeping missions are in Africa, it makes sense to procure goods and services from companies based on the continent.

The logistics challenges involved in supporting peacekeepers are enormous. For example, in 2018 the UN had 100 000 peacekeepers in operations around the world and that year UN peacekeeping produced almost five billion litres of drinking water and treated 2.2 billion litres of wastewater. Also in 2018, 28 million litres of diesel fuel and 10 million litres of jet A-1 fuel were supplied for peacekeeping missions. In addition, more than 61 million kWh of power was generated by over 220 power generation stations operated by UN peacekeeping.

Inventory held by UN peacekeeping in 2018 included roughly 90 000 SKUs (stock keeping units), including 29 000 SKUs of spare parts. UN peacekeepers consumed some 28 000 tons of fresh food in 2018, along with 50 000 tons of dry food and more than 2 000 tons of combat rations. The medical support provided for UN peacekeeping missions in 2018 included 487 tons of medicines and medical supplies for more than 722 000 patients and 768 UN-operated clinics.

At the moment fuel is a particular focus area given the rising cost of oil and “is a serious issue in a number of African countries,” Saunders said. “We have been addressing that in our peacekeeping operations. Without fuel, we can’t implement our mandates. We are also looking at alternative technologies to reduce the amount of fuel that we use as a large portion of fuel is used by power generation, and if we can move towards renewable energy, that reduces the reliance on fuel but also reduces cost and contributes to the safety and security of peacekeepers as getting fuel to operating bases can be dangerous.”

To register to attend the UN Procurement Summit 2022, click here.

Khare and Saunders, will be leading the Procurement Summit but will be joined by Greg Kuchler – Chief of Information Technology Procurement – who will deliver a presentation on doing business with the United Nations. Kuchler will also unpack the UN tender process, and the presenters will provide attendees with tips on winning tenders.

A UN team from New York will deliver a presentation on the UN’s aviation requirements. The UN mostly procures aviation services from South African companies and this is likely to increase due the war in Ukraine, which has effectively removed most Russian and Ukrainian aviation service providers from the market.

Other speakers at the UN Procurement Summit include Defence Minister Thandi Modise; Isaac Motale, CEO at Reutech Solutions; Ambassador Mathu Joyini, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations; and Simphiwe Hamilton, Group CEO of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency.