Improving the transparent and accountable use of public finances
Title: Strengthening of African capacities for external financial control (AFROSAI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: 48 African countries
Lead executing agency: African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI)
Partner: Supreme Audit Institutions
Overall term: 2010 to 2012
The transparent and accountable use of public finances is crucial if citizens are to accept legislative decisions, as without it the credibility of government and administration will be contested. Many African governments have difficulty creating the necessary transparency and accountability, however. External control institutions audit public revenues and spending and disclose their findings to the government, parliament and civil society; however the Supreme Audit Institutions in charge of this process are often not sufficiently capacitated for various reasons. These reasons include a legal basis that does not provide the required independence; inadequate working procedures and employees who are not sufficiently qualified; and restricted public acceptance of and knowledge about the work of Supreme Audit Institutions owing to insufficient cooperation with the media.
The African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI) was created in 1976 in order to enhance the technical and institutional capacities of Supreme Audit Institutions in Africa and to foster cooperation among national Supreme Audit Institutions across the continent. It acts within the framework of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
AFROSAI comprises five organs: The tri-annual General Assembly includes representatives from all member institutions and sets the organisation’s framework for action. The Board of Governors has seven members and serves as executive organ. Administrative tasks are carried out by the General Secretariat, which also ensures communication among member states. The Sub-Regional Working Groups are divided into three language groups: English (E), French (F) and Arabic (A). Content-related work is provided by the relevant Technical Committees, the fifth organ.
The project aims to support AFROSAI in enhancing the capacities of African Supreme Audit Institutions and to improving the financial governance of all 48 African states whose Supreme Audit Institutions are members of AFROSAI.
The 'Strengthening of African capacities for external financial control' project was initiated in 2010. It assists the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions and the Institutions are encouraged to seek competent and well-acknowledged support and exchange through AFROSAI on a regular basis to improve their efficiency, adherence to regulations and public acceptance of their work.
The project has two focal areas:
- The institutional strengthening of AFROSAI and
- Capacity development in public audits in AFROSAI member institutions.
Internal strategic consultation is used to strengthen the institution. Primarily targeted at the AFROSAI Board of Governors and Technical Committees, this consultation aims to enhance the efficiency of the association's multiple structures, which so far have only functioned to a limited extent. It includes a clear definition of responsibilities and better internal cooperation within AFROSAI organs, as well as improved external collaboration between AFROSAI and its key stakeholders such as INTOSAI. Furthermore, the project assists the Technical Committees with the strategic orientation of the association and the updating of the new strategic plan.
The project supports workshops, seminars and conferences to develop the capacity of Supreme Audit Institutions and increase their institutional capacities. Additionally, experience-sharing and the transfer of knowledge between the different member states and language sub-groups is nurtured to ensure sustainability of the project and create greater cooperation among members.
Given the project's Pan-African nature, cooperation with other Pan-African institutions and other networks which work towards good financial governance, such as the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative and the African Tax Administration Forum, is being fostered.
As of 2013 the technical support to AFROSAI is being implemented by the Good Financial Governance in Africa programme.
Results achieved so far
After the first nine months of operation, several results that serve as the first stepping stones to further improvements have been achieved. Firstly, contact between the organisation and the Pan-African Parliament and African Union has been established. GIZ supported the realisation of the AFROSAI manual which compiles all regulations and guidelines, and which has been printed in the three organisational languages. In addition, a flyer on AFROSAI and its activities was developed and printed in Arabic, English, French and Portuguese.
Furthermore, the GIZ project assisted AFROSAI in developing its strategic plan for 2012-2014. In order to assess and restructure the membership-contributions framework, a study has been conducted with GIZ’s support. The study provides an overview of outstanding fees, the current payment structure and calculation of membership contributions, and offers new approaches for all three components. A first study on options for increasing gender sensibility within the organisation has also been carried out with GIZ’s support and in cooperation with AFROSAI-F’s working group on ‘Gender and Development’.