The African Professionalisation Initiative attended the 12th Annual African Accounting and Finance hosted by AAFA – the African Accounting and Finance Association between 5-8 September 2023. This was a momentous occasion, as Accra, Ghana, the venue of this year’s conference, represents a significant location in the history of AAFA, as it is where the 1st conference was held of the association 12 years ago in 2011. The visionary work of the AAFA is to bring together scholars on the continent and beyond, representing various fields of accountancy, to explore new and emerging issues through presentations on research undertaken and to form a solid evidence base in informing policy actions by governments and other actors to deliver value for citizens.
The API participated in this event as a knowledge partner recognising that some of the quality work already undertaken by API has been informed by findings arising from research work undertaken by AAFA. This approach enables API to address development element of research and development by ensuring that actions and programmes implemented are backed by facts/ reliable information and research evidence.
The conference, hosted in partnership with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) Africa was arranged in two main parts: an emerging scholars’ colloquium, a forum that natures the up and coming talent of leading African accountancy researchers; and the main conference, where seasoned researchers were able to present their research and engage with other scholars from across the world on their papers, from methodology, to findings, to recommendations, contribution and impact.
AAFA and the API have a complementary relationship, with the API aimed to undertake the professionalisation of public sector accounting and auditing to another level, AAFA not only integrates world-class research, but also aims to be a vehicle for research IMPACT. The concept of impact, when put in layman terms, is meant to drive research that leads to new value creation for humanity through informed policy decisions.
The topics discussed in this year’s conference were as engaging as those in previous years, with the overall programme adopting certain clear streams- which consisted of diverse topics such as: The public sector, corporate governance, sustainability, taxation, banking and the capital markets. This provided a rich mix of opportunity to engage during the conference- and also aligned to the goodwill message given by Ms Alta Prinsloo, CEO of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA), a partner organisation to the API, where she emphasised the importance of research in improving insights and ultimately practice, indicating the alignment of PAFA’s focus areas to topics to be discussed during the conference. Such areas of alignment broadly included the following: Enhanced governance, accountability and transparency in the public sector, ensuring that the accountant plays a role of a trusted advisor, and contribute effectively to the various reforms taking place in the sector; Sustainability reporting and assurance; Economic crime prevention, with a focus on the public interest nature of the accountancy profession; Enhanced accounting services, with a focus on the implementation of quality management standards, and a country-level quality system; Engagement on all matters related to the growth agenda of the continent, particularly the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The track on public sector was of particular interest in the context of the API, as it provided the latest insights in the area of API’s capacity building initiatives. The discussions were diverse, including discussions on topical public financial management issues such as corporate failures of public sector aviation entities, the success of PFM reforms, accountability systems in procurement, accounting and accountability during times of crisis (such as the Covid-19 pandemic), and exploring a culture of financial transparency in local governments. The discussions provided an opportunity for colleagues to engage, discuss the various methodologies, findings and recommendations, and implication for future research, and indeed practice. The conference had a number of colleagues who occupy editorial positions, and therefore such platforms also provide African scholars with an opportunity to ready their research, including in the public sector, for publication in well-reputed academic journals.
Part of the work of the AAFA is to stretch the limits of what has previously been done in accountancy research, and this is the session where the API presented. The API, through is representative, Neo Hlatshwayo, spoke to colleagues about the ambitions of this continental-wide initiative, offering a unique opportunity for the profession to create pathways of professionalisation for those in the public sector. The API also spoke on the recent collaboration between itself and AAFA, which was to further understand the nature of public sector accounting and auditing education, qualifications, and structures that support these in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa, with the aim of understanding the applicable need for capacity building processes of API’s nature. This session was presented in conjunction with Professor Teerooven Soobaroyen and Professor Philippe Lassou, lead researchers in the work. The report’s implications are being incorporated into the current work by the API and PAFA in Francophone Africa- the following are the full reports (in English and French), as published by the API:
- Public Sector Accounting and Auditing in Francophone Sub-Saharan Countries: Context, Practices and Implications for the API
- La comptabilité et l’audit du secteur public des pays francophones subsahariens: Contexte, pratiques et implications pour l’initiative de professionnalisations en Afrique
The conference provided ample space for scholars to network with each other, editors from top academic journals, and other colleagues outside of pure academia, such as the API and the Civil Society and Public Accountability organisation, ensuring rich engagements and discussions for the future. This was also complimented by an excursion that entailed understanding the history of the Gold Coast and the impact of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Accountancy, being a social science, requires practitioners and academics who are acutely aware of the environment they work in and are able to reflect critically and challenge the status quo, when necessary.
During the conference, new AAFA leadership was inaugurated , with Professor Steven Nkundabayanga (from Makerere University Business School, Uganda) being selected to serve as the President for the next two years. He had served as the association’s Deputy President. The event was concluded with a gala dinner, which provided an opportunity to recognise the top papers presented during the conference. The winning paper under the category ‘Ethics and Auditing’ presented during the public sector stream titled- Uncovering the Dark Side of Africa’s Covid-19 Response: Evidence of Mismanagement and Corruption in Pandemic Spending- by Dr John De-Clerk Azure and Professor Philippe Lassou. The paper highlighted the practical challenges in accounting and accountability during the Covid-10 crisis, and the similarity of challenges of corruption, collusion and wasteful expenditure between developed and developing countries. This paper highlighted the need for governments to enforce flexibility in crisis response measures, but without suspending accountability for the resources spent, thus ensuring that ultimately, those in great need get the assistance required.
The API will continue to ensure collaboration with AAFA, to ensure that it is able to integrate the important insights from such gatherings in the capacity building work that it will be undertaking across the continent. The API, congratulates the AAFA for a successful conference and looks forward to participating in 2024 to be hosted in Zimbabwe, the first country to implement the API.
The houses below summarise the learning programmes at the API. The API online learning platform and high-quality learning materials were developed with significant donor funding support and are benchmarked against the IFAC and INTOSAI standards and meet the highest employer quality expectations. They are highly discounted to assure the success of your professionalisation goals.
When you are ready to professionalise, please choose below what may work for you and drop us an email on email@example.com
|Houses (Learning Programmes)|
|• House 1 – Incumbents (Experienced un-professionalised accountants and auditors)-Implemented|
|• House 2 – Specialisation – Ready for occupation from 2024|
|• House 3 – Students – Ready for occupation in 2025|
|• House 4 – Micro credentials (Performance Audits for the Health Sector) – Ready from 2024 (More Micro credentials to be developed)|
|• House 5 – Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in partnerships with national PAOs|
Our Vision: An African public sector capacitated with competent, ethical and influential professionals who support accountability, transparency and good financial governance. Our Mission: To grow the capacity of accountancy professionals in the African public sector for enhanced service delivery.
The API is an independent non-profit organisation whose primary objective is to strengthen the capacity and knowledge base of accounting and auditing professionals in the African public sector to enhance accounting and auditing service delivery to the citizens of Africa.
The API Learning Programme aims to achieve the above institutional goal as a partnership between the accountancy profession (represented by the Pan African Federation of Accountants (“PAFA”)), accountants general or their equivalent (African Association of Accountants General – “AAAG”)), and supreme audit institutions or courts of auditors (represented by the English (“AFROSAI-E”) and French (“CREFIAF”) language sub-groups of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (“AFROSAI”)).
The attributes below provide a high-level summary of how the API Program is designed to work towards realising its value creation objectives for the public sector and citizens in each country.
- Ownership: Driven & owned by the in-country local accountancy profession regulators and PAOs; Auditors General; Accountants General and other in-country partners.
- Unique country content: This is scoped with help of the in-country stakeholders and reviewed and included in the learning platform to serve the unique learning needs for each country. It will be housed in the country’s API Online portal.
- Partnerships: The API as an institution works closely with its partners/ stakeholders and invests resources in growing its partnership base to realise long-term value creation and sustainable success.
- Quality: Learning resources and content are bench-marked on IFAC and INTOSAI standards and locally contextualised to meet country specific needs.
- Accessibility: The API taps the power of technology and internet connectivity to facilitate the “Learn from anywhere anytime” online model.
- Affordability: Learning programs are priced reasonably to eliminate cost barriers to professionalisation thus enabling successful accelerated Public Financial Management Reforms – PFMR.
- Recognition: National accountancy and auditing regulators and PAOs will make arrangements to recognise the API graduates as public sector professional accountants and auditors within their respective jurisdictions and will subject them to membership obligations.
Contact the API Team for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.professionalisation.africa