African auditors bemoan automation limitations

Auditors of public accounts at top auditing bodies across Africa need to innovate to keep up with changing technologies as a result of growing digitalisation of government work.

This was one of the recommendations by different experts gathered at the on-going top auditors’ meeting in Kigali.

The message was delivered yesterday at an 2018 Strategic Review and 15th Governing Board Meeting of the African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E).

The meeting brought together about 100 participants, including Auditor Generals and their delegates from 26 member states of AFROSAI-E.

With countries across the continent automating their systems at a fast pace, the participants heard, top auditing institutions need to build their staff’s capacities to ensure that they are able to keep up with the changes as they go on with their work.

While doing a presentation on digital trends affecting how governments are doing business, Dr Ignace Gatare, Principal of the College of Science and Technology at the University of Rwanda, urged the participants to innovate new approaches in order to cope up with change.

“The auditing and verification of things is becoming a disrupted field where the registration and management of assets can be automated. We need to rethink our business. Data revolution is a reality, do not try to resist it,” Gatare said, urging the continent’s top auditors to embrace innovation  and change in order to best accomplish their work.

Governments across Africa are automating their processes and the trend remains an emerging challenge for Auditor Generals of public accounts who need to be equipped enough to verify whether public resources are well managed despite digitalisation of government businesses.

Rwanda’s Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, told The New Times that it is high time audit institutions assessed how they can catch up with the new trend of automation.

“Our governments are digitalising at a higher pace than the players can often afford to understand,” he said.

The Auditor General of Sierra Leone, who is also the current chairperson of AFROSAI-E, Lara Taylor-Pearce, agreed with Biraro, explaining that building capacities of staff at supreme audit institutions will be required in order to address the emerging challenges.

“The challenge for us is to get our staff well trained to be able to give assurance that the systems are working the way they should work,” she said in an interview.

Among other issues, the on-going meeting, which opened on Monday and ends tomorrow, has discussed risks associated with cybercrimes in government, digital trends affected how government does business, as well as the impact of big data and digital changes on supreme audit institutions.

AFROSAI-E is the English language subgroup of AFROSAI, the African branch of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.

The group performs an enabling role in the region by sharing information with its members and supporting them towards the better performance of their mandates.


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