Three international companies are vying to supply technologies to analyse customers’ interactions and to integrate management systems of the nation’s two federal investment agencies.
The offers placed by the bidding companies are far higher than the budget allocation prepared by the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.
IDA allocated one million dollars to hire a company that will supply customer relations management (CRM) for the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) for the Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC). However, the allocated budget is 150pc lower than what was offered by the three bidding companies.
The tender was announced last year as a restrictive bid after the World Bank pledged to fund the project. The Competitiveness & Job Creation Project, which was formed under the IPDC, has oversight authority over the project and has approached four international firms – Techno Brain Global FZE, Twenty Third Century Systems Limited, Soft Pro International Inc and Oracle Corporation – to take part in the bidding process.
The first three companies have passed to the financial stage of the tender process, while Oracle fell short of qualifying for the technical evaluation phase. Techno Brain scored the highest point in the technical assessment, albeit the difference was marginal compared to the two other companies.
During the financial bid opening held on January 19, 2019, Twenty Third Century offered 154.28 million Br in local currency, including all taxes; Techno Brain offered 83.3 million Br, excluding all taxes; and Soft Pro offered 73.7 million Br, excluding 15pc withholding tax. The latter two bidders placed their tender in dollars.
“We’re still reading the offers of the bidding companies,” said Tessema Geda, project coordinator of the Competitiveness & Job Creation Project. He also explained that the process would go on after the World Bank approves the results of both the financial and technical evaluations.
Last year the project office hired an individual consultant who estimated that IPDC and EIC could pay one million dollars a year added to the implementation cost as a subscription fee. The payment will be made as a license fee for cloud storage, which could push the total investment for the project up to 6.5 million dollars, exceeding the initial estimate by six and a half fold.
CRM intends to help EIC staff to provide efficient services to investors in marketing, information, assistance and advocacy. The ERP system will be implemented to address 75pc of IPDC’s technical and functional requirements and will enable the Corporation to manage ongoing projects.
Additionally, the system is also supposed to support high availability for database clusters, mirroring, data replication or any other advanced technologies, according to the requirements.
A lecturer of information Systems at Addis Abeba University finds these requirements to be improper.
The Corporation can hire professionals, with specialised skills in software engineering, to customise programs to develop the ERP and CMS solutions using open source software, according to the expert.
“The open source software would only cost up to 100,000 dollars,” he said.
He also sees the plan of putting the data in cloud-storage to be unnecessary.
“The agencies don’t need such a sophisticated ERP and CMS system,” he said.
“They can do fine with basic technologies. They don’t need high-end solutions.”
Even though the project needs to get a no objection from the World Bank, the project owners still need to decide on the source of discrepancies in the budget estimates.
IPDC, which is a public enterprise formed to develop and administer industrial parks, is an implementing agency of the project. IPDC currently administers six industrial parks in Hawassa, Adama, Komolcha, Jimma, Dire Dawa and Meqelle and is in the process of developing five additional parks.
The project office will hold a meeting with the new Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Abebe Abebayehu, early this week to discuss the issue, according to Tessema.
“We would be eyeing options to source additional funds from the World Bank, or else we may cancel the bid, ” said Tessema.