Accountants General from fifteen countries that form the Association of Accountants General of Eastern and Southern Africa (ESAAG) are in Kigali for the 29th Annual Meeting which aims to promote accountability and transparency in public finance management (PFM).
During the three-day conference, accountants general are to discuss practical challenges and solutions related to PFM.
ESAAG was officially created in 1995 as a regional association of general accountants. It is currently composed of 15 Member States namely; Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is expected to evolve into a pan-African body that will support the Diary 2063.
Rwanda is hosting the ESSAG conference for the second time, after hosting the 16and Annual General Meeting in February 2009.
According to Marcel Mukeshimana, Accountant General of Rwanda at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) and former President of ESAAG, when Rwanda hosted the meeting in 2009, the country did not have professional accountants or institute to train them, adding that the preparation of accounting books was a stumbling block that led to many mistakes.
He said that after sixteen years, the country has improved considerably where all PFM processes for central government and decentralized entities are automated, from planning, to budget preparation, to procurement; finance management; payments, resource mobilization, accounting and reporting as well as internal audit processes.
He revealed that in 2009, only 2% of government institutions would produce accurate accounting reports while today about 60% can do so.
According to him, following the creation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Rwanda (ICPAR), 300 accounting professionals have been trained and are currently working in public establishments, whereas only three were present in 2009.
Mukeshimana said that among the challenges facing ESAAG, the low level of professionalism and capacity of the various accountants is still at the top, adding that with the African Professionalization Initiative and the presence of the political will of each country member, the gap will be successfully closed.
ESAAG seeks to expand from 15 countries to all 54 African countries, thus transitioning into the African Association of General Accountants by June 2022.
Hlompho Matsoso, the new president of ESAAG, said that the accounting fraternity in Africa is extremely small in offering assistance regarding sound financial management in public institutions.
She noted that a lot of resources have been taken from Africans and therefore it is time to take back what they have and stop exporting skills from everywhere but rather share them among themselves.
She said that with the continental body supported by the African Union, they want to make a big impact and plan to strengthen the association by establishing good relations with the secretariat of the continental body and implementing strategies. which have a positive impact on every Member State.
Kennedy Musonda, Accountant General of Zambia, said the country is delighted to host the secretariat of the African Association of Accountants General which will be established in June.
He said Africans can expect a uniform way of accounting for public sector resources with the body leading public sector financial management reforms for all African countries.
According to him, Zambia will eventually provide the body with offices and land where it can install its structures.
The theme of the 29th Annual General Meeting of ESAAG “Laying the Foundations of Accountability and Transparency in Public Financial Management for the Africa We Want”, highlights the importance it attaches to the Agenda 2063, which calls to action African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.