Exploring the Link Between Public Procurement and Innovation in Africa

Exploring the Link Between Public Procurement and Innovation in Africa

Public procurement, that is, the government’s function of buying goods and services, accounts for significant public expenditure and is a major element of global and domestic economies. Globally, governments spend around 13 trillion US dollars on public procurement per annum. Public procurement accounts for 12% of GDP in OECD countries and almost 30% in developing countries. In South Africa, Government spends almost R1 trillion on procurement annually, accounting for 12% of GDP. The potential of public procurement as an innovation policy tool is immense, as Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, stated in his speech at the 15th Annual South African Innovation Summit in September 2022, noting the role of public procurement within the innovation compact as part of the Decadal Plan to implement the White Paper on Science, Technology, and Innovation.

As part of its core mandate of unlocking science and technology, and driving innovation for development, the National Research Foundation (NRF) will be hosting a major, one-of-a-kind international conference on public procurement and innovation in the African context. This event, hosted in partnership with the African Procurement Law Unit (housed at the Stellenbosch University Law Faculty) and themed the Public Procurement & Innovation in Africa, will be a gamechanger in leveraging massive public procurement spend to advance innovation and ultimately development on the African continent.

Says NRF CEO, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, “At present, the link between public procurement and innovation is not widely appreciated in the South African context. The same is largely true for many other African countries. One finds very limited explicit policy instruments, programmes, or systems seeking to operationalise public procurement as an innovation policy tool. Likewise, the literature on public procurement and innovation in the African context is very limited. With this conference, the NRF hopes to drive a process to change this lack of attention to public procurement and innovation in the African context.”

The conference will aim to:

  • Raise awareness of the linkage between public procurement and innovation among all relevant local stakeholders (in both the private and public sectors).
  • Create the basis upon which policy and law reform can be spearheaded to facilitate the use of public procurement as an innovation policy tool.
  • Enable South Africa and other African countries to draw on experience in other systems that have used public procurement as an innovation policy tool more extensively.
  • Generate a basis for increased scholarship on public procurement and innovation in Africa.

Event details for journalists:

Venue: NRF Building, South Gate, CSIR Complex, Meiring Naude Road, Brummeria
14 to 15 November 2023
08h00 to 17h00
For more information visit:

To RSVP, please contact:

Bongani Nkosi
Media Relations Officer
National Research Foundation
+27 61 477 3064


Vuyiseka Klaas
African Procurement Law Unit

Note about the speakers:

The conference will be facilitated by Prof Geo Quinot of the African Procurement Law Unit. Leading international scholars and practitioners will participate in the event, including Prof Charles Edquist, the Ruben Rausing Chair in Innovation Research at CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden; Prof Jakob Edler, the Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Institute of Systems and Innovation Research; Prof Louise Knight, Professor in Public Sector and Healthcare Procurement, University of Twente; Prof Jane Lynch, Centre of Public Value Procurement, Cardiff Business School; Prof Christopher Yukins, Lynn David Research Professor in Government Procurement Law, George Washington School of Law and Fellow, Acquisition Innovation Research Center; Dr Barbara Allen, Deputy Head of School of Government, Wellington School of Business and Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; Dr Moses Khanyile, Director, Centre for Military Studies, Stellenbosch University; CEO of TZoro IBC; and Mr Ibrahim Kitoo, Chief Legal Officer, Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC.

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