EUROSAI. Magazine N26 - 2021

EUROSAI 108 Studies and other articles General Secretariat of AFROSAI COVID 19: THE EXPERIENCE OF AFRICAN SAIs AND OPPORTUNITIES UNCOVERED FOR ADDRESSING POTENTIAL CRISES IN THE FUTURE In December 2019, an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared in Wuhan Province in the People's Republic of China. Over time, it has gradually spread around the world, killing several hundred thousand people and progressing from epidemic to pandemic status. Since its occurrence, the world has faced a shock not seen since the Second World War, and African countries, which were initially spared, have been hit hard since the second quarter of 2020. This exceptional period generated a socio-economic and organizational shock leading to a profound and brutal change in the situation of several sectors of activity. Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have not been alien to the subsequent changes brought about by the pandemic. While in some cases there was a willingness to maintain the SAIs' core activities in spite of the difficult health situation, many other SAIs were virtually closed down, with audits and international activities grinding to a halt and the bulk of the work focusing mainly on administrative tasks. While in some cases there was a willingness to maintain the SAIs' core activities in spite of the difficult health situation, many other SAIs were virtually closed down The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the "core business of African SAIs". In response, some have shown themselves to be forward-thinking and flexible enough to be able to continue their activities as best they can. The cases of the CREFIAF SAIs speak for themselves in this respect. Indeed, from the beginning of March 2020, crisis units were set up to rethink the organizational structure of the institutions. This measure has allowed the SAI of Cameroon, for example, to structure and experiment with shift work in order to limit the massive presence of staff on site and help staff comply with barrier measures. In other SAIs, including those of AFROASAI-E, home working was almost the rule for staff In other SAIs, including those of AFROASAI-E, home working was almost the rule for staff. This redevelopment has ensured the continuity of the work and activities that were in progress. It has made it possible to finalize the audit work started before the health crisis began. On another level, this unprecedented context required the acquisition and installation of special disinfection equipment and materials and the organization of staff screening sessions to limit the spread of the virus. Despite the measures taken by African SAIs to effectively combat the coronavirus and continue their activities, they have faced a number of both operational and strategic challenges. In terms of strategy, most African SAIs faced a significant threat of not achieving their mandates in the short to medium term due to the immediate limitations brought about by the health crisis. The threat resulted in some SAIs becoming less relevant at the peak of the pandemic. As far as operations are concerned, in addition to the difficulties involving internal coordination, parameters such as downsizing, lack of adequate technological infrastructure, difficult access to the Internet and the inability to carry out audits without the possibility of physical visits have significantly reduced the SAIs' performance. Similarly, external coordination with key stakeholders has become almost impossible.

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