South African Firms Look to Expand Their Share of UN Procurement: The Latest Annual Meeting of UN Buyers Allowed South African Firms to Make New Business Contacts, Building on an ITC Partnership with South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry

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South African suppliers and United Nations (UN) procurement officers explored how to expand South African business presence among UN buyers for relief items, in a June meeting organized by the dti, South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry.

Africa, which is home to most of the world's poorest countries and one-fourth of the world's asylum seekers and refugees, and has regular food shortages, is the biggest international aid recipient. The UN and other international organizations buy food, medicine, transport and other items to carry out their emergency and development programmes in the region.

As the continent's main exporter, South Africa has been the leading African supplier to the UN and, together with Kenya, hosts many UN procurement offices. However, its share in UN procurement is still very small, between 1% and 2%. There is still great scope for the development of local businesses through the aid procurement market.

The business contact day

When UN buyers held their annual meeting this year, they chose South Africa as their venue. ITC and the dti organized a contact day with local businesses at their request. The procurement officers, as representatives of the UN Inter-Agency Procurement Working Group, represented a unique opportunity for South African firms. Operating in the international aid market not only brings new revenue, but gives companies a higher profile through the credibility of working with an internationally recognized buyer.

Procurement officers from more than 20 UN agencies met one-on-one with representatives from 55 South African enterprises offering, among others, food and agricultural products, shelter, water and sanitation items, computer and telecommunications equipment, consultancy and transport services. …