The professionalisation of public sector accounting and auditing in the African public sector has taken another step forward.
The African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Institutions (AFROSAI-E), the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) and the East and Southern African Association of Accountants General (ESAAG) are partnering to drive professionalisation in African public sectors. This partnership will result in the establishment of coordinating structures to oversee and support professionalisation efforts across the continent. An interim oversight board (IOB) has been established to begin this work.
A development workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 27-29 September 2017 to enhance the professionalisation competency framework, originally developed by AFROSAI-E. The competency framework outlines the knowledge, skills and attributes of public sector accountants and auditors and, provides guidance to professional accounting organisations seeking to incorporate public sector competencies into their qualifications. The competency framework needs to incorporate the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders to ensure its relevance to the public sector. The workshop forms part of the process to collect these perspectives on the roles and expectations of professional accountants in the public sector.
The workshop included representatives from the accounting profession, government and supreme audit institutions from East and Southern Africa. Participants were initially exposed to the AFROSAI-E/PAFA/ESAAG professionalisation strategy. Professor Rashied Small, a member of the IOB, then led a thought provoking discussion about the accounting education landscape, competency-based education and assessment practices. He highlighted the need for higher order thinking to be developed in accounting professionals and explained the role of International Education Standards in achieving this.
Equipped with the necessary background knowledge, participants then got to work and analysed the draft competency framework. Participants made many value adding contributions to the framework which will result in an increased emphasis on service delivery and the public interest. It is anticipated that the framework will be a key enabler to successful professionalisation efforts across the continent.
Professional accountants have a key role to play in ensuring accountability, transparency and good governance in government organisations. They can contribute to better decision making, efficient and effective use of public funds and ultimately improved service delivery that makes a difference in the lives of citizens. The inputs obtained at the workshop will help to ensure that professional accountants are equipped to deliver on the unique needs of the African public sector.
AFROSAI-E is the English language subgroup of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), the African branch of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). AFROSAI-E performs an enabling role in the region by sharing information with its members and supporting them towards the better performance of their mandates.
ESAAG supports offices of accountants general to develop sound public financial management practices. They facilitate cooperation between countries in the area of government accounting, provide a forum for sharing experiences, and encourage the development of government accounting personnel and trainers.
PAFA was established to accelerate the development of the accountancy profession in Africa and strengthen the voice of the profession within Africa and worldwide. PAFA believes that good governance, accountability, good financial management, and transparency are principal pillars in the acceleration of economic development and reduction of poverty.