Peace Dividend Trust Signs MoU with ACCI to Take Over its Flagship Marketplace Project

Peace Dividend Trust (PDT) and ACCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a press conference held in Kabul Serena Hotel to announce the transition of PDT activities to ACCI including a handover of PDT flagship, Marketplace project.  The MoU heralds the beginning of the Chamber’s involvement in PDT’s training and tender distribution services.

Mr. Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, Chief Executive Officer of ACCI praised the work of PDT in Afghanistan.  He remarked that the Marketplace project brought economic opportunity to Afghan suppliers from which many jobs were then created.

Since 2006 to date, with its activities funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Peace Dividend Marketplace – Afghanistan (PDM-A) has facilitated the execution of almost 1,300 contracts valued at over USD $1.1 billion.  These contracts were awarded to Afghan businesses by international buyers.  Fifty-two percent (52 %) of the value of these contracts were awarded by the U.S. Government Mission (i.e. both by U.S. civilian Agencies and their implementing partners as well as U.S. Military Contracting Centers) and a further 3 % by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan.  As a consequence of these awards, over 118,000 permanent jobs have been created, through March 2011. It has enabled Afghans to become gainfully employed, as well as contributing to Afghanistan’s fiscal income from tax revenues.  Over the last decade, PDM-A has received recognition as one of the most effective international aid projects on record in Afghanistan.

PDM-A is now in its phase-down period of operations in Afghanistan, and will operate henceforth in partnership with ACCI in Kabul and Helmand Business Association (HBA) in Helmand province.  The respective capacities of these two organizations will be built to enable them to fully deliver the training and tender distribution services on their own by early 2012.

“After a long and detailed partner search, short listing, selection and vetting period, we are confident that ACCI and HBA will continue to offer valuable training and tender distribution services in the most effective and efficient manner,” said Mr. Phil Colgan, PDT’s Country Director in Afghanistan.

“From here on, PDM-A staff will be transferring detailed knowledge, modules, systems and expertise to our counterparts within these two organizations, and we will work together in the coming months in order to provide support to Afghan businesses which are seeking contracting opportunities amongst the international and local procurement community,” added Colgan.

“ACCI and PDT share the same long term goals regarding private sector development in Afghanistan. ACCI has already cooperated in the past with PDT on such matters as conveying to our membership awareness about international procurement practices, business skills, the spreading of tender notices, as well as conducting several training sessions since PDT first launched its activities in Afghanistan,” said Haqjo.

Since 2006, in conjunction with PDT, ACCI has offered approximately 3,000 tenders to Afghan companies and trained 3,770 businesspersons.

In highlighting PDT’s impact on the Afghan business community, Haqjo recalled the poor quality of big Afghan reconstruction projects signed outside the country.  He said, “The low quality of these projects was a consequence of multiple levels of sub-contracting work being given to unqualified low bidders while repatriating profits back to the contractor’s homeland.  PDT facilitated access for Afghan businesses to first-hand contracts inside Afghanistan and convinced international buyers to use local businesses.”

Mr. Khair Mohammad Noor, Acting-Deputy of Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs also commended PDT for its services which have generated thousands of job opportunities for Afghans.  He hoped that ACCI and HBA would be able to use these services and to further increase employment in the country.

Mr. Phil MacKinnon, Acting Head of Mission of Embassy of Canada emphasized the continuation of the Afghan First policy and hoped that ACCI and HBA would be able to seamlessly transition into taking over PDT’s services.

Brigadier General Edward F. Dorman, Chief, ISAF CJ-4 noted that contracts totaling several million dollars between ISAF and Afghan companies was proof that the Afghan First policy can work.

“Before awarding any contract, ISAF first evaluates the capacity of Afghan companies. The significant values of our contracts with Afghan companies indicate that there is reliable capacity in these companies,” said Brigadier General Dorman.

In accordance with the MoU, tender distribution services will continue uninterrupted, either via SMS or email alert to PDM-A’s member businesses, or through the physical tender distribution points that are located in PDM-A’s Kabul and Helmand offices.  Additionally, regular training sessions will continue in each location.