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IRREGULARITIES IN NEW GENERATION CAPACITY PROCUREMENT

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MBABANE – The requests for proposals (RFP) for qualified bidders in the new generation capacity first tranche procurement programme is to be started afresh.

This is a ruling of an Independent Review Committee (IRC), as one of the bidders has successfully challenged part of the procurement process. The review application has its genesis from an intention to award a tender contract which was issued by the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA). The latter, which had been cited as the first respondent in the review matter, intended to award Globeleq Africa Holding Limited and African Clean Energy Development the tender.

tender

At the heart of the procurement process was a tender for the new generation capacity first tranche programme solar photovoltaic (circa 40 Megawatts). The first stage of the process was a request for qualification (RFQ) by ESERA to shortlist qualified bidders for the project. The applicant identified as Voltalia SA/Semane Engineering Solutions Consortium made the list of the successful qualifying and experienced bidders including some of the respondents that include Globeleq Africa Holding Limited.
The second and main phase of the tendering process was a RFP, which was launched by ESERA in March last year inviting qualifying bidders to submit their bids for the project. The applicant gravamen with the tendering process only relates to the RFP.

According to the terms of the RFP, each bidder was entitled to submit up to four project bids. Each project shall have a maximum export capacity between five and 15 MW as measured from point of connection.  The cumulative capacity of the tenders to be awarded to the bidders in the project was circa 40MW. The applicant, who was among the bidders in the RFP process, submitted one bid for a project at Ndzevane area in the Lubombo Region for 15MW. The evaluation of the bids was carried out by the various tender committees of ESERA.

At the close of the process, the applicant’s bid was not preferred. Instead it was selected as a reserve bidder project.  Aggrieved by ESERA’s decision, the applicant launched an application for review with the controlling officer of the first respondent. The application was not successful. The applicant then launched a review application with the IRC on several grounds. The application was challenging the composition of the bid evaluation committee; and award of tenders significantly in excess of the generation capacity required; among other things process. The applicant sought an order directing that the evaluation process be started afresh. Among the prayers was also an order directing ESERA to re-invite the qualified bidders to re-submit their bids in accordance with a revised RFP.

opposing

ESERA and African Clean Energy Development were opposing the grant of the relief sought by the applicant. The first ground for review was concerned with the alleged involvement of Dr Shaheen Ahmed in the evaluation of the tenders by ESERA’s bid evaluation and procurement committees. He was reportedly engaged as expert transactional advisor for the procurement programme.  The applicant argued that the main challenge about his participation as a member of the tender committees was that on April 20 last year, the applicant allegedly discovered that Dr Ahmed was reportedly a Managing Director of a company styled Energy System Planning (ESP) registered in South Africa. Globeleq Africa Holding Limited, the applicant claimed, appeared on ESP website as one of its indicative clients. The IRC ordered ESERA to submit minutes of bid evaluation, procurement as well as adjudications committee and declaration of interest forms. This was done to investigate the role played by Dr Ahmed in the tendering process. “There was no full compliance with this order by the first respondent,” claimed the IRC. In its defence, ESERA had argued that Dr Ahmed only acted as technical advisor and was not a member of the committee nor a decision maker.

challenged

The applicant had further challenged the notice of intention on grounds that two preferred bidder projects in one area (Ngwenya) were selected. After hearing both sides’ arguments, the IRC ruled that the application was succeeding partly on the basis of the first and third ground for review. The first ground related to the composition of the bid evaluating committee. The IRC ruled that all possible conflict of interest be declared by ESERA to the bidders. The third ground for review was based on the revised RFP. The major ruling of the IRC is that ESERA is ordered to commence afresh the RFP procurement process for the qualified bidders. The ruling does not interfere with the RFQ process. ESERA’s position and way forward is that it has thoroughly analysed the decision. It has asked all its stakeholders to be patient, as it works towards a mutually beneficial resolution for all parties involved in the process.

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