Regional Reflections: Africa is a customized research report that provides an African perspective on the findings from CBOK 2015, the largest ongoing study of internal audit professionals in the world. Building on the 10 imperatives for internal audit that were presented at The IIA’s 2015 International Conference, this report highlights unique concerns for Africa and provides insights from internal audit leaders in the region.
Ongoing changes in African economies and governance systems have created notable differences between regions within Africa, which will be described throughout this report. See appendix A for key demographic information about each of the regions analyzed.
South Africa clearly leads the way in building a strong foundation in corporate governance, risk management, and internal audit processes. One of the key drivers is the King Report on Corporate Governance (King III), which has encouraged organizations to strengthen their boards and helped push the relevance and importance of internal audit up the agenda. These reforms have had a ripple effect across much of the continent. Good governance is now often seen as key to strengthening the competitive performance of African business and a crucial tool in the fight against corruption in some government departments and in the private sector.
Africa’s internal auditors are well placed to support better governance and are playing a leading role within their organizations. They generally have good reporting lines to the board and involve their stakeholders in the audit process—crucially seeking feedback about their activities against agreed objectives to maintain the relevance of internal audit’s work.
But many improvements are a work in progress. Risk management systems, for example, are not always formalized and reporting lines can be confused or not independent from executive management in some organizations. That has put too many chief audit executives (CAEs) under pressure from their chief executives to alter audit findings. These issues echo concerns shared by auditors in other parts of the globe.
Africa’s CAEs are making the case for extra resources but need to continue to secure significant increases in expenditure on automated auditing tools. CAEs need to be seen playing a lead role in their organizations—and in their ambition for their departments, its skills, and training. But every auditor can join the fight. Investing in training and development—particularly those crucial, intangible communication and leadership skills, and technology-related skills—is going to be key if the region’s auditors are to fulfill their potential.
Download the CBOK Report Regional Reflections: Africa