The Good Financial Governance in Africa programme promotes transparency and accountability in public financial management and is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU). Its objective is to foster Good Financial Governance in Africa, more specifically to equip decision-makers in African public finance to use region-specific services, products and further education to improve financial governance.
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On 14 December 2017, it was time to celebrate the participants of the Public Finance Management (PFM) in Key Sectors Training. At a wine farm in Durbanville, Cape Town, they received their certificates. While 23 professionals from The Gambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda had entered the programme in August 2017, 20 of the participants completed it successfully. Three participants were unable to complete the training due to travel restrictions and personal commitments.
It was not a small effort that led to the happy ending. It took 4 weeks of intense learning and exchange in Germany at Kehl University in August/September, a leadership module in November and another 4 weeks with an equally packed schedule in November/December in South Africa, at the School of Public Leadership (Stellenbosch University).
The training covered all aspects of PFM that are relevant for the sectors of agriculture, education and health, with diverse participants in terms of their positions and institutions from Ministries of Finance, sector ministries, Supreme Audit Institutions, Parliaments and Civil Society. Reflecting this diversity, the training was not just about preparing a budget, but also included aspects of auditing and control, along with the external oversight by parliaments and civil society. This holistic approach is aligned to the basic idea of Good Financial Governance: To be effective, improvements of PFM need to reach out far beyond technical issues into the spheres of political economy and need to respond to the needs of the country context.
In terms of methodology, the training was highly interactive, as it required participants to not just listen but engage constantly, thus relating all content to their own and their countries’ needs and challenges.
Between the two learning phases, participants were given time at home not only to catch up with their work environment and their private life. Simultaneously they refined and started to implement the transfer projects, which were developed by each country team in order to respond to specific problems as defined by the teams. Examples are the development of Key Performance Indicators to assess and improve the effectiveness of local governments (The Gambia) or the design of an online platform that enables citizens to participate in the budget process (Rwanda). Finally, and most importantly for those participants who wish to continue their studies, the course earned them credits according to the European Credit Transfer System ECTS and thus counts towards further studies in similar fields.
An overwhelming feedback from all participants was that the training was worth the workload it entailed. A participant from Uganda said that: “The exposure to and interaction with PFM practitioners both in Germany and South Africa enhanced my understanding of PFM. I have built capacity in budgeting, risk management, procurement and auditing, all key in efficient use of public finances. So, I take back Good Financial Governance practices to my country.”