As part of its capacity development initiatives, the Project Directorate Office of the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project, recently organised a training workshop for finance officers working at the five country offices. Nineteen members of staff drawn from six countries: Nigeria, United Kingdom, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda attended the training workshop which was held in Tanzania.
The highly interactive finance workshop was facilitated by the CAVA II Project Accountant, Mr Alexander Thompson, who was supported by two finance officers from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta: Head of Internal Audit of the university, Mr Olufisayo Amubode and the Director of Budget and Expenditure Control, Mr Osinuga Olukayode.
Speaking at the event, the Director of Budget and Expenditure Control, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta Mr Osinuga Olukayode x-rayed the major challenges facing finance personnel particularly those working for externally funded project in Africa. He explained the role Project Accountants play in international projects, while highlighting the critical problem areas, which account officers should look out for.
According to him, “the likely challenges that finance personnel should look out for are failure to work within budget and plan by the project executive, lack of or inconsistent standards for reporting in donor’s currency, improper and insufficient documentation, lack of trust, level of integrity in terms of resource management and lack of commitment in the execution of the project.”
Similarly, the Head of Internal Audit at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Mr Olufisayo Amubode, underscored the relevance of auditing in funded projects, adding that: “internal auditing is as an independent, objective, quality assurance and consulting activity designed to add value to an organisation. An Auditor must provide a complete and continuous audit on account and records of revenues, grant and expenditures, and must also prepare detailed internal audit guide for use in any project or organisation.”
Mr Amubode went further to add that finance personnel need to note changes in accounting practices’ regulations on project implementation and taxation for each country in order to ensure smooth operations.
The Project Accountant of the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project, Mr Alexander Thompson, unveiled a template for documentation, accounting and submission of the Project’s report. He added that the essence of the finance workshop was to tackle the challenges finance personnel face, with a view to improving their efficiency.
After a thorough explanation of the reporting template, attendees at the workshop showed deep understanding of the template and expressed their delight to be part of the finance workshop. The Project Accountant for CAVA II, Uganda, who participated in the training, expressed her satisfaction with the workshop.
She revealed, “Sharing experiences and challenges with the different workshop participants actually made us to realise that a problem shared is a problem solved, because some of the challenges we had as Accountants were actually cutting across the countries. There were training on foreign exchange gains and losses, accountability on actual expenditure, budgeting, procurement process and cash flows that really broadened our knowledge and skill. There were lots of valuable lessons learnt and as CAVA II Uganda, this has surely taken us miles.”
Rounding off the meeting the Country Manager for CAVA II, Tanzania, Grace Mahende applauded the timely disbursement of funds for project activities, while urging the finance personnel to extend a helping hand to researchers and field project staff in areas where necessary, in order to attain the overall project goal.