November 1, 2022 10:18 pm
On 31st October 2022, CoST Uganda became the first recipient and winner of the inaugural CoST International Award, followed by CoST Thailand who won an honorary mention. This CoST Award is named after Alfredo Cantero, a much respected former CoST International Board member and Minister of Transparency in Hondurus. The Award was named after Alfredo because of his exceptional level of professionalism, kindness, intelligence, good humour, and a sense of adventure while working with CoST Hondurus and serving on the CoST Board. Alfredo achieved high office through his work on challenging corruption and vested interests. He chose this approach not because it was the easy thing to do, but because it was the right thing to do and that is why CoST honours and remembers him.
Speaking shortly after receiving the Award, the CoST Manager for Uganda Ms. Olive Kabatwairwe extended appreciation to the CoST Board, the entire CoST Family, the Champion Ministry of Works and Transport, former staff and all stakeholders of CoST Uganda who have supported the implementation of CoST features of Disclosure, Assurance, Multi-Stakeholder working and Social Accountability possible. She further indicated that, the Award was won by CoST Uganda, but in real sense, it is Government and the People of Uganda who won, for promoting transparency in public infrastructure delivery processes. “I am very much delighted and humbled to receive this award, as winner of the First CoST Awards” on behalf of the People of Uganda, the Government of Uganda and all stakeholders of CoST Uganda, I attribute this win to all stakeholders and Friends of CoST Uganda from all walks of life. You made it possible for us to dialogue and engage with you in addressing transparency in the sector, you received and addressed our recommendations to ensure that our people access quality infrastructure as we build a stronger economy to facilitate better lives. And therefore, you won this Award” Ms. Olive Kabatwairwe, CoST Uganda Manager.
The award event that was held virtually is one of the mechanisms by CoST International to enhance the performance of its member programmes working in various contexts, especially dangerous and challenging environments.
In his remarks the Senior Regional Manager for CoST in Africa Mr. Gilbert Sendugwa noted that; “This award to CoST Uganda is well deserved”. The programme has withered storms and realized the highest impact in a challenging context in the last six years. Redeemed at the helm of its threatened closure in 2016 resulting from lack of credible progress since September 2014 when Uganda became a member, to a governance review conducted in 2020 that disbanded the Multi-Stakeholder Group recommending establishment of a new Local Governance committee, to initiating series of engagements with Government through the Champion’s Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT) on the formalization of the programme. “Amidst all the challenges, the programme remained steadfast on the infrastructure transparency agenda, an extra ordinary passion worth celebrating and recognizing across CoST programmes” noted Evelyn Hernandez, Head of Member and Affiliate Programmes at CoST International.
CoST Uganda’s win was facilitated by its strong submission aligned to the Award criteria which required tangible results documented with evidence from implementing the CoST approach. CoST Uganda has documented results at sector, project and policy levels. The programme uses the MSG approach – Government, private sector, civil society to implement its core interventions, and designs sector focused engagements to facilitate the rapport and relationship building on key sector concerns. CoST Uganda uses innovative approaches to realize disclosure, data use and inclusive social accountability. Key interventions; data analysis, development of platforms, independent sector focused studies, dialogue, cultivating relationships, learning clinics, community Barazas, training sessions.
The Assurance process has enhanced transparency and accountability in the sector. This is demonstrated by the increase in information published by public entities from 42% in 2019 to 71% in 2021. In 2022, Uganda aligned the procurement portal to the CoST standard thereby mandating full disclosure of infrastructure data, entities have also consistently recommended projects for assurance and engage in social accountability activities. Some of the results from implementing CoST in Uganda include;
- Provided a platform for the private sector to dialogue directly with government, helping to flip the narrative around bribery and infrastructure procurement. This platform has influenced policy reforms. Construction companies are increasingly seeing that business integrity is beneficial for all and can save them money.
- Influenced quality infrastructure delivery. E.g. Ministry of Works and Transport increased their citizens engagement, conducted an environmental impact assessment, erected speed humps and constructed drainage channels on the Mwiri – Busoga College Access road following the second assurance report. The ministry also incorporated scoping study recommendations in the amendments of the 2017 Roads Bill, including issues of classification of roads, erection of bill boards, road safety, storm water drainage and provision, and increased disclosure/road signage.
- Enhanced project performance. Ministry of Education and Sports under its Teacher Training Education phase one project instituted a quality monitoring team to address the observations in the assurance report. Makindye Sabagabo, developed an ordinance for garbage management and started citizen awareness whereas, Ministry of Water and Environment in 2020 extended water to over 200 farmers along the Mabira Dam in Mbarara district, and enhanced citizen participation. In 2017, KCCA erected an information wall on Nsambya – Kevina road following an engagement from a civil society organization member trained by CoST. And renovated Kiwatule Wamala road following an uproar by a journalist trained by CoST. And enabled completion of stalled infrastructure such as Lukaya market which had stalled for 10 months.
- CoST reports have been noted by the Prime Minister’s office to provide factual evidence in informing the Government Annual Performance Reports (GAPR) such as the report of 2019/2020. CoST has been regarded as a data source and an authority in the sector e.g. by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on PPPs, and MAPs report by Ministry of Finance. We have earned free media airtime to speak about the value of transparency in the sector of up to 3 unpaid talk-shows quarterly and commentaries on daily newspapers.
- CoST contributed to the procurement policy improvements. e.g. In 2020/21, government revised the procurement law to include disclosure; revised the local content reservation schemes into regulations, and updated the standard bidding documents to include environmental, social, health and safety requirements for the procurement of works among other aspects.
This award gives us the overwhelming encouragement to double our efforts in championing transparency and accountability in the sector. We are determined to become a strong voice and go to partner in regards to infrastructure transparency in Uganda. We also encourage all CoST member countries experiencing varying constraints never to give us, hold on a little, good days for you to see results of your sweat are coming. It has not been easy for instance to realize full disclosure, bit this has become a reality 6 years later with the CoST standard, which faced a lot of setbacks in the early stages of Assurance and disclosure sessions would later be highly recognized and championed by Government. To the CoST Managers, change is possible only when you are determined and passionate to see it. It will surely come. We are open to share experiences and lessons from our work in Uganda.
About Alfredo Cantero
Alfredo became involved in CoST in 2014 whilst he was working in the Office of the President as the Director for Special Projects and Head of the Strategic Delivery Unit. Honduras was still reeling from the impacts of the 2009 Constitutional Crisis that included a political coup, mass demonstrations and an increase in political violence. The Government of President Juan Orlando Hernández had been elected in 2013 and Alfredo was amongst the senior officials charged with rebuilding public confidence in the political system.
Alfredo immediately appreciated the opportunity that CoST presented to help strengthen accountability and build trust between citizens and Government. He knew that it wouldn’t be easy. Hondurans are the first to acknowledge that their country faces major challenges in transforming its institutions. However, Alfredo saw the crisis as an opportunity to introduce reforms that in other circumstances would be likely to attract fierce resistance.
Alfredo played an instrumental role in the early stages of CoST Honduras. This included developing its application to join the programme and convening the multi-stakeholder group (MSG). One of the most important tasks in this early stage is building trust between the stakeholders involved and Alfredo played a leading role in the workshops that were convened for this purpose.
These early efforts paid dividends and CoST Honduras made very rapid progress. This included institutionalising CoST so that disclosure and assurance became mandatory. It also included establishing the SISOCS disclosure platform and training citizen transparency commissions in its use. Not surprisingly, these efforts attracted international attention and in 2016, CoST Honduras won a coveted Open Government Award for its efforts. Inevitably this success was the result of a team effort, but Alfredo’s contribution was significant. He worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, opening doors, winning support, and removing obstacles. It was of no surprise to those that knew him when in 2017 he was appointed Presidential Commissioner of Transparency, with Ministerial rank.
Alfredo joined the CoST Board in 2015. He brought a politically savvy perspective to deliberations and was always at pains to examine how policy made at the Board level would appear to those responsible for implementing it at the national level.
These are the qualities that Alfredo will be remembered for: professionalism, kindness, intelligence, good humour, and a sense of adventure. Underpinning them all were his strong principles. Alfredo achieved high office through his work on challenging corruption and vested interests. He chose this approach not because it was the easy thing to do, but because it was the right thing to do and that is why CoST honours and remembers him.
ABOUT THE AWARDS
The Alfredo Cantero Awards is an annual competition starting in 2022, which aims to recognise CoST Members and Affiliates and their efforts to promote transparency, participation, and accountability and achieve better lives from better infrastructure.
Each year the awards will focus on successful achievement of CoST’s mission and will recognise CoST programmes that can clearly demonstrate their contribution to quality infrastructure that meets people’s needs through improved transparency, participation, and accountability.
All CoST member and affiliate programmes with active status are eligible to apply. All applications must be validated by the Multi Stakeholder Group from the jurisdiction where the submission is coming from or in case of affiliates, by the Public Authority leading CoST implementation at national or subnational level. Additionally, the evidence submitted to demonstrate the successful achievement of CoST’s mission should be a direct result of the CoST approach: disclosure, assurance, and social accountability.
The judges will understand that the achievements of each initiative should be assessed relative to the conditions in each country, and that each country will have unique experiences to share given the challenges they face. In 2022, CoST will award one overall WINNER and two HONORABLE MENTIONS.
Evidence of our work;