Promoting the transparent and responsible use of public finances in Africa
Title: Good Financial Governance in Africa
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); European Union (EU)
Country: Africa-wide (offices in Pretoria, South Africa; Yaoundé, Cameroon; Berlin, Germany)
Lead executing agency: African networks of supreme audit institutions; tax authorities; finance ministries of African members states; African networks for parliamentary control of budgets and finance
Overall term: 2015 to 2018
Improved public service delivery, including the provision of education, healthcare and sanitation, relies on the transparent and efficient management of public finances. Many African countries still face challenges in the effective management of their financial resources. Some governments are unable to mobilise sufficient revenues, budget execution remains difficult and there are shortcomings in terms of transparency and the expected results. Since they lack the capacities to fulfil their supervisory mandates, supreme audit institutions and parliaments are often seen as weak links in the chain of accountability. Where the mismanagement of public resources is exposed, sometimes little is done to enforce the corresponding sanctions or changes in behaviour. Good financial governance is about ensuring democratic principles in the management of public resources. It contributes significantly to the delivery of services by governments and to their credibility in the eyes of their citizens.
Decision-makers in African public finance use regionally specific services, products and further education measures to improve financial governance.
GIZ is implementing the programme Good Financial Governance in Africa on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union. To strengthen the knowledge and skills of decision makers, the programme cooperates with regional public finance networks and provides technical advice, training and support for peer learning processes, in the following areas:
Tax policy and administration. To foster effective tax administrations and provide appropriate training, the programme supports the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) in developing e-learning courses and higher education programmes tailored to the specific needs of tax officials, such as the Executive Master’s in Taxation. GIZ also supports ATAF in its planning and research activities and in setting up the African Tax Research Network (ATRN), which facilitates credible African research in tax policy, administration, legislation and leadership.
Budget reform. The programme is assisting the Secretariat of the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) to conduct a series of joint country case studies, in which countries conduct reciprocal analyses of another peer country’s public financial management (PFM) systems and processes. The CABRI Secretariat also receives governance support in the form of monitoring and evaluation, and for the establishment of sector policy dialogues and a PFM knowledge hub.
The programme is developing a training course on PFM and budgeting in the health, agriculture and education sectors. This aims to provide budget practitioners with the necessary tools to make better informed decisions on the allocation of scarce resources. The first intake is planned for 2017.
External audits. The main partner in the area of external auditing is the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), an Africa-wide network that promotes and develops the exchange of ideas and experiences between its member institutions, in the field of public financial controls and the auditing of public organisations. The GIZ programme supports AFROSAI and its language subgroups, technical committees and working groups. Furthermore, to promote the equality of women in African audit institutions and strengthen their leadership skills, GIZ and AFROSAI have set up the Women Leadership Academy, where they are currently running the first pilot course.
Legislative oversight. The main institutions dealing with legislative oversight are specialised committees such as finance and budget committees and public accounts committees (PACs). The programme aims to strengthen the technical capacities of parliamentary budget specialists by supporting networking and peer learning. It has also undertaken several studies and research on parliamentary budget processes in Africa. GIZ supported the 2016 general meeting and conference of the African Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (AFROPAC) to develop a joint vision for African exchange processes.
An African voice on good financial governance and liaison with AFRITAC. The Good Financial Governance programme supports technical discussions between relevant public finance stakeholders. As good financial governance involves a systemic approach, the programme facilitates collaboration between ATAF, CABRI, AFROSAI and AFROPAC, in order to ensure a holistic discussion. To strengthen synergies between bilateral programmes and regional organisations, it also participates in steering committee meetings of the International Monetary Fund’s Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITACs).
Support for the formulation of an African position on illicit financial flows (IFFs). The programme aims to strengthen the dialogue among its partner networks on the subject of IFFs. It is developing a baseline study on the role of good financial governance networks in combating IFFs, and is currently working on the planning and organisation of an international conference on IFFs, together with the partner networks.
To enhance the leadership and capacities of Africa’s tax administrations, the programme worked with ATAF and the Berlin School of Economics and Law to develop a Master’s course on tax policy and administration. The first intake for the Executive Master’s in Taxation graduated in March 2016. The second, consisting of 24 African tax officials, started in September 2015. The success of the Anglophone course has prompted ATAF to launch a similar degree in French, in cooperation with the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) and universities in Senegal.
The programme supported CABRI in completing a joint country case study in Zanzibar, which brought together officials from the Ministry of Finance of Zanzibar and several other African finance ministries to discuss the topic of programme-based budgeting. The programme also assisted CABRI with strategic and technical advice for the execution of its Strategic Plan 2015/16 – 2017/18.
AFROSAI concluded the joint audit on the drying-up of Lake Chad, the first ever joint environmental audit in Africa. The audit report attracted strong public attention when it was submitted to the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and to the parliament and president of Chad. An action plan has been developed to ensure that follow-up measures are taken. The project has been supported by the GIZ programme since its inception in 2012.
The AFROSAI Gender Strategy points to an underrepresentation of women in African supreme audit institutions, particularly in leadership positions. To address this gender gap, AFROSAI and GIZ jointly developed an innovative concept for the Women Leadership Academy. Twelve African women leaders are participating in the year-long programme, which was launched in Gabon in February 2016.
In 2016, the programme published an overview study that compares the parliamentary budget supervision of 13 Anglophone and 13 Francophone African countries. The publication, ‘Guardians of democratic accountability: The role of Anglophone and Francophone African parliaments in supervising the budget’, summarises contrasting institutional traditions, settings and experiences, and sums up the most important areas in which reforms are necessary for improved budget oversight.