Introduction – API and the PAFA Accountancy Day
The API participated in the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) that took place in Mumbai India from the 18th to the 21st of November 2022. The API team had an opportunity to take part in the rich and intellectually stimulating knowledge exploration sessions while holding side-line meetings with key stakeholders from Africa and beyond. API’s vision is to realise “An African public sector capacitated with competent, ethical and influential professionals who support accountability, transparency and good financial governance”. The success of this vision will result in accelerated, sustainable and predictable facilitation of Africa’s Socio-Economic development.
The congress (WCOA) was preceded by an inspiring thought leadership engagement with key thought leaders at the PAFA Accountancy Day event themed – People, Planet & Prosperity. The PAFA Accountancy Day was a world class event organised to enable stakeholders and key leaders to reflect on developments in the accountancy profession in Africa (and globally), consider what challenges lie ahead and explore how to tap the power of partnerships to realise solid value for stakeholders in both the private and public sector in the face of accelerating disruption.
The topics covered at the PAFA Accountancy Day included: IFAC and Donors Partnering to Strengthen PFM in Africa Through Accountancy Capacity Building; Case Studies: Strengthening the Accountancy Profession in Africa Through Partnerships (Championing public sector transparency and accountability; Developing foundational accountancy skills; South-South partnerships); ICPAR’s development journey since WCOA 2018 in numbers (and paying it forward – AABE partnership); Supporting the Accountancy in Liberia; Embracing the New; Demystifying the Future: Put down that crystal ball and join the CEOs of the five largest PAOs in Africa as they demystify the future of the accountancy profession in Africa; Accountants Without Borders (Africa free trade and the accountancy profession, including main findings of the PAFA-ACCA AfCFTA study; Mutual recognition agreements in accounting services — developing countries’ experience; The SAPRO experience).
The PAFA Accountancy Day brought together high-profile speakers from IFAC, The Donor Community (The Global Fund, GAVI, USAID, among others), PAFA members (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cote’ D’ivore, Liberia, among others).
API Key Stakeholders
API has developed a stakeholder mapping framework that guides its engagement with its broad base of stakeholders. The key stakeholders are summarised in the diagram below.
API’s presentation at the WCOA-PAFA event focused on highlighting how partnerships are playing a key role in the journey of professionalising public sector accountants and auditors in Africa, a program that commenced by API partner organisations, more than four years ago.
API – PFM Reforms Through Partnerships
The API’s main funder is the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency – SIDA, in line with its rallying call – a better world together. Additional funding is provided through a basket fund of donors, managed by API’s host organisation, AFROSAI-E. The financiers include the African Development Bank – AfDB; DFCO (Formerly DFID-UK), among other financiers.
The API program activities are supported by its partner organisations comprising Accountants General (previously ESAAG and now transitioned to the Association of African Accountants General-AAAG), Auditors General (AFROSAI-E and CREFIAF) and the Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAFA). The professionalisation objective is to grow the number of public sector accountants and auditors to enhance service delivery to citizens.
A study conducted previously shows that there is a severe shortage of Public Sector Professionalised Auditors and Accountants and once this gap is addressed through the API professionalisation, the challenges raised by key stakeholders responsible for PFM reforms would be addressed. The success of the API will also lead to the oversight role of the Parliamentary Accounts Committees being effective and successful thereby enabling governments to meet their commitments to support the success of the African Union seven aspirations withing the agenda 2063 plan. The International Federation of Accountants – IFAC – Nexus 1 and Nexus 2 reports reveal that there is a positive correlation between the number of professionals accountants in a country and its socio economic development.
The API supports countries to implement public sector accountancy professionalisation programmes which are aimed at upskilling existing capacity while also developing a pipeline of future talent in PFM.
IFAC and PAFA are implementing an MOU signed by IFAC and various donors including The Global Fund, GAVI and USAID with the objective of supporting professionalisation of government accountants and auditors to enhance the value and impact of donor funding by enhancing accountability and transparency in the use of government and donor funds. IFAC is working with PAFA to realise the success of this initiative. The meeting participants included the new IFAC President, GAVI and USAID senior representatives, PAFA CEO, Senior IFAC, PAFA and API staff. It was recognised that investing in the people working in the public sector finance roles was critical to the success of the PFM reforms and greater accountability and transparency for public and donor funds. The API provided an update on the progress in the country-by-country implementation. The API will work closely with IFAC and PAFA to support the success of the professionalisation objective. The initial interventions are taking place in Burkina Faso. The PAFA – API advisory group has been established to facilitate the success of the program and in particular support the piloting of the API in Burkina Faso. Further updates will be provided in the quarterly API newsletter.
The API engaged with leadership from Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya (KASNEB and ICPAK) to consider next steps in the implementation of the API. The agreed actions will be implemented to progress optimisation of modalities necessary for the successful intervention within the respective countries.
The API Public Value Chain
Most national governments development plans prioritise human resource development as a core driver for national success. To ensure this focus becomes a value creating practical commitment, there is a need for allocation of resources for the priority goals of professionalising public sector employees and in particular public sector accountants and auditors (consistent with the African Union charter on public service and administration).
The regular accountant with a professional qualification likely hasn’t covered competency driven lessons on public sector planning; public sector budgeting; public sector procurement; public sector accounting and reporting and public sector auditing, among some of the core public sector focused competency areas. To this end, all professional accountants that have not been professionalised for the public sector environment and needs should take advantage of the resources at the African Professionalisation Initiative working through the national Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAOs) and the Accountants General and Auditors General offices to realise this desirable objective and become future ready in a fiercely disruptive era where public service delivery will continue to be in high demand as private sector recedes to heavy reliance on machine learning and artificial intelligence in routine roles traditionally mandated for accountants.
The African Union – Agenda 2063
We look forward to realising the success of the public sector accountants professionalisation initiative and deliver high quality benefits to the citizens of Africa as API will open a trusted and predictable pathway for the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA); The seven aspirations of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The MOU signed between the African Union and the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) endorses and supports the African Professionalisation Initiative (API). The African Union (AU) Charter on public service and administration provides that public service agents should demonstrate professionalism, transparency and impartiality in the performance of their duties. The API will accelerate realization of this objective working closely with its partner organisations and the Public Service commissions across Africa.