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In June 2023, IFAC received its accreditation by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (U.N. ECOSOC) as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Special Consultative Status. Consultative status provides organizations like IFAC and many others with significantly greater access to events and proceedings across the U.N., its subsidiary bodies, and other special events organized by the President of the U.N. General Assembly.

IFAC was quick to take advantage of this new status. On July 21, 2023, IFAC participated in an event focused on development in Africa, a key priority for IFAC.  Specifically, the event—presided by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group—provided a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on the current status of the implementation of commitments made towards Africa's development. 

Participants, including the many U.N Member States in attendance, as well as other relevant stakeholders in Africa, had the opportunity to make a formal statement on the record.  IFAC’s statement is provided in full at the end of this article.

The Africa We Want

The discussion at the June 21st event revolved around a recent report from the from the U.N. Secretary General. The report was prepared against the backdrop of the sixth year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the global call for action by the Secretary-General to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as eight years of implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want through its first 10-year implementation plan (2014–2023). The report reviews the implementation of commitments made by African countries and their development partners towards Africa’s development. It provides policy recommendations to close the gaps where progress is lagging and to accelerate the implementation of commitments.

A key focus of the report and discussion was how to ensure the sustainability of financing and the means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) recommendations. The Deputy Secretary General noted that the lack of support for domestic revenue mobilization and challenges in the implementation of Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms have hindered the ability of African countries to access capital. This raises important questions around the ability of governments across Africa to strengthen domestic resource mobilization, the progress made towards leveraging science, technology and innovation for Africa’s development, the enhancement of policy coherence for sustainable development and the promotion of peaceful, inclusive societies.

Lasting COVID Impacts & The Way Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on development in Africa, having disrupted economic activities and causing a significant drop in trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows. Despite recent progress in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the pandemic has exposed the impact of the widening global digital divide. The ongoing crisis has also revealed the limitations of the global trading system and the urgency of reform. Capacity-building support and scaling up “Aid for Trade” are critical for increasing Africa’s share of global trade.

Other highlights of the event included official representatives from Rwanda and Tanzania who shared their national governments’ strategies and implementation policies addressing the SDGs. They highlighted some initiatives aiming to strengthen domestic revenue mobilization, to improve their regulatory framework and the activities of their tax administration. They also noted the challenges that arise from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted economic activities. All speakers noted the critical importance of supporting the digitalization of the continent. A representative from the OECD Development Center highlighted initiatives to improve the mobilization of domestic simplification of tax administration, a digitalization effort supported by the OECD. Finally, recommendations were made on the need for the full digitalization of tax and banking system to support African Governments.

IFAC and the U.N. – Key Global Engagement Partners

IFAC looks forward to continuing to engage with the U.N. on key issues like global development, anti-corruption, climate change and sustainability reporting.  IFAC’s new ECOSOC Status will only serve to accelerate these efforts. 

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IFAC Statement to the United Nations on the Role of the Accountancy Profession in Africa’s Development

July 21, 2023

Darlene Nzorubara

Esteemed colleagues, I represent the International Federation of Accountants, IFAC.  IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession, comprising 180 professional accountancy organizations in 135 jurisdictions, representing more than 3 million professional accountants. IFAC supports the development, adoption, and implementation of high-quality international standards. We work to prepare a future-ready accountancy profession. We speak out as the voice of the global accounting profession.

The accountancy profession is an essential driver of strong and sustainable organizations, financial markets, and economies. We have a unique position across businesses, including SMEs, and the public sector, in every country of the world.  With this scope, and all of the things we do—producing decision-useful information, enabling sustainability, driving transparency and rooting out corruption, supporting SMEs and financial literacy—the accountancy profession has a crucial role in helping government and society in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The foundation of the accountancy profession at country level is a strong Professional Accountancy Organization.  Strong professional accountancy organizations are social engines that continuously produce accountants with vital skills and a strong ethical core.  These accountants in turn serve the public interest by facilitating economic activity, development, and decision-making by responsible and effective government and business leadership. Importantly, strong professional accountancy organizations contribute to and support the implementation of robust accounting practices in the public sector, which drive accountability, transparency, and ultimately sustainable development.

IFAC currently has 31 member organizations in 29 countries in Africa.  This is a good start, but not enough—Africa is underserved in terms of the accountancy profession.   When considered in the context of all of the social and economic benefits that the accountancy profession generates, it is clear how important it is to close this gap. 

As such, a core mission for IFAC is supporting the implementation of capacity building activities to strengthen the accountancy profession and national professional accountancy organizations in Africa.  In that regard, I would like to thank FDCO, USAID, Gavi, the Global Fund, World Bank and all of the donor organizations that have supported our initiatives in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe. I would also like to thank the Pan African Federation of Accountants, which has been a key partner in the effective implementation of these initiatives. Developing the accountancy profession in Africa makes a real difference to the economy, society, and future of a country, and we continue to see this firsthand. 

Accordingly, investments in the development of the accountancy profession in Africa are a significant opportunity and must be a priority for the international community.  This should include support for upskilling and reskilling of professional accountants working in the private and public sectors in Africa to close core skills gaps.  It should also include forward looking skills such as sustainability-related reporting and assurance, as these too will be vital for Africa’s development.  IFAC, and our 180 member professional accountancy organizations, and our future members in Africa, are core partners in this mission. 

In conclusion, the accountancy profession creates stronger economies, fairer societies, and a better world—every day. We look forward to opportunities to continue and accelerate our vital work through our collaboration with the UN and other key stakeholders. Thank you.

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Darlene Nzorubara

Darlene Nzorubara is a Principal at IFAC. She manages the compliance and membership activities of IFAC's members and associates in Africa and supports the PAO Capacity Building Program as well as the MOSAIC (Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Accountancy and Improve Collaboration) Steering Committee. She also oversees Africa initiatives under IFAC’s MoU with Gavi, the Global Fund, and USAID to strengthen public finance management for greater accountability and transparency through the effective role of PAOs. 

Prior to joining IFAC, Darlene worked as a research assistant on governance at Baruch College in New York and worked for two years as a legal assistant for a law firm in Paris, France. Darlene has post graduate degrees in international economic law and in business and exportation law from Université René Descartes – Paris V and a Master in Public Administration from Baruch College.