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.
P.O. Box 1372, Hatfield, 0028 Hatfield Gardens, Block C, Ground Floor 333 Grosvenor Street, Pretoria South Africa
+27 (0)12 423 5900
Week Days: 08.00 to 17.00
In Abu Dhabi in December 2016, over 100 Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) pledged to make a meaningful contribution to achieving the SDGs. Three years later on November 21-22 the Portuguese SAI (Tribunal de Contas do Portugal) invited members from the European and the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI and AFROSAI) to exchange on approaches to audit the implementation of the SDGs. Held in the historical centre of Lisbon, attendants also celebrated the 170 years of the Tribunal de Contas do Portugal. The seminar, attended by about 30 Supreme Audit Institutions, involved also the European Commission, the INTOSAI Development Initiative, UNDP and GIZ who support the development of new methodologies to audit the implementation of the SDGs.
Implementing the SDGs requires countries to change the way they implement their strategies. It requires to develop new ways to involve business and civil society to join forces with the government to meet the targets of the SDGs. It also requires governments to see how policy coherence can be strengthened to ensure the right balance between economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability.
One core principle of the Agenda 2030 is also to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’. All population groups for example minorities, vulnerable people or groups at risk of discrimination, should have the possibility to voice their opinions in policy formulation and obtain access to public services. This poses tremendous challenges for governments, as in many countries access to services remains widely unequal. The SAI of Angola presented a performance audit of the energy sector which compared access to electricity: 75% of the residents of the capital Luanda have access to electricity, whereas that share drops to less than 10% in some rural provinces.
Supreme Audit Institutions can use different methodologies to make a meaningful contribution to the SDGs. They can for example audit the preparedness of governments. Have they put in place an effective framework for planning and implementing the SDGs? Have national strategies been reviewed to take the SDGs into account, and are the target values based on reliable statistics? Is sufficient disaggregated data available to measure the impact of government action on vulnerable populations? With the support of their partners over 70 Supreme Audit Institutions have conducted such preparedness audits.
One other way for audit institutions to make a difference is to audit the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of government programmes linked to the SDGs. Beyond undertaking ‘classic’ performance audits, this requires SAIs to more actively verify whether governments have adopted ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approaches. One key element, for example, the involvement of civil society organizations. Have citizens been consulted in the preparation of government programmes? Is there space of civil society organizations to express themselves and to contribute to the achievement of the SDG targets? Supreme Audit Institutions themselves need to consider how they are engaging with citizens. New digital tools such as the App ‘SouEco’ in the Amazonas State in Brazil or the ‘CitizensEye’ app in Ghana, also offer the potential to citizens to directly report issues to Supreme Audit Institutions and could be replicated elsewhere. Participants of the seminar also highlighted the budget as the most important policy tool to achieve the SDGs. The PFM reporting framework developed by AFROSAI-E and GIZ is currently used by 13 Supreme Audit Institutions and assesses the functionality of the whole budget cycle. The tool includes questions that assess whether the budget process was transparent and open to public scrutiny, whether the SDG targets were taken into account in the budget planning and whether the achievement of the SDGs is being monitored by responsible ministries, departments and agencies.
The first EUROSAI-AFROSAI seminar in Lisbon ended with the discussion on a joint outlook highlighting the need for continued cooperation between Africa and Europe in implementing the SDGs and exchanging experiences on innovative methodologies.