The global economic and business landscape is changing with unprecedented speed and uncertainty. Accounting professionals will be expected to look beyond the numbers and collaborate, think, behave more strategically and lead in decision making.
There is global consensus that public sector finance needs to adapt in the face of a changing economic landscape. With modernising economies, digital influence and evolving economic sectors, Africa’s public sector finance is confronted by 50 key drivers of change.
These 50 drivers of change undertaken in a global study by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accounts) will have the biggest impact on public sector finance leading into 2026. Financial skills not yet practiced will come into demand under requirement and forever change the face of the public sector accountant.
THE KEY FOCUS
Unpacking the study at the recently held ACCA 7th Global Public Sector conference in Johannesburg, industry guests and members showcased practical examples of how these 50 drivers of change will influence public sector finance. Manj Kaler, Head of Public Sector ACCA, gave insight into the drivers and by which order they will begin to influence finance industry.
Overarching the drivers and theme of the conference is the increase in demand for integrated reporting in the public sector finance.Integrated reporting will require accountants to shift away from financial analysis to business accountancy, focusing on swift action and financial literacy beyond a spread sheet.
“The public sector is as complex as it is diverse” – Report: 50 Drivers of change in the public sector
Unpacking the above influencers, through a panel discussion, Bukkie Adewuyi – Director, Sizwe Ntsabula Gobodo, Xolisa Dlanga – Senior Financial Analyst, Office of the Accountant General and Martin Turner – former president, ACCA – focused on the importance of transparency and accountability. Citizens now demand accountability more than ever, with a strong focus on aligning public sector finance to presidential term successes. More so in Africa, governments are starting to feel the strain from public backlash from corrupt accountancy and mismanaged public sector finances.
CITIZENS AND INTRINSIC VALUE
Presenter Patrick Kabuya, Senior Financial Management Specialist – World Bank Group, highlighted two main goals for the Group particularly in Africa, they are; to end extreme poverty, and to promote shared prosperity. The rise in active citizenship in Africa reiterates these goals, holding intrinsic value to transparent and accountable public servants.
“Sound management of our public finances is a cornerstone of our development plans.” – Pravin Gordhan – Minister of Finance
Countrymen and investors want change. Unpacking this social uprising and other drivers of change, the recent study by ACCA draws on Professor Mervyn King’s King IV principles of integrated reporting ; independence from political influence, performance targeting and variable remuneration based on outcomes.
ACCA surveyed over 1,000 senior executives, ACCA members and members of other professional accountancy bodies working in public sector organisations and carried out 12 in-depth round table discussions across 11 countries, including South Africa (around 300 participants) to populate the report.
The report is structured in two sections, the first introduces the ranking of 50 drivers of change (split into eight domains of relevance) that are expected to impact the public sector in the next five years and beyond. The second section assesses the impact of the drivers on the future public sector landscape.
- The overall top, critical, driver of change is: level of economic growth, followed by: quality and availability of the global talent pool.
- The public sector finance function is also experiencing challenges of its own from changes in technology to greater commercial focus and big data.
- Professional accountants in the sector will need strong set of skills to meet the challenges including strong technical skills, communication skills, professional judgement, vision and leadership skills. Hence it is most important to invest in nurturing and training students.
- The ability to make linkages, explore perceived economic growth strategies in order to realise visions and plans of national governments.
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