Building PFM Capabilities in Africa

Project team: Matt Andrews, Tim McNaught, and Salimah Samji
April 2017 - Present

Every country around the world has embraced public financial management (PFM) reforms over the last two decades, but many have simply not met expectations. These reforms have primarily focused on technical interventions and have yielded mixed results. In practice, public financial management does not lend itself to "one-size-fits-all" approaches to policy making. Effective reform depends on political and organizational change, which requires a deep understanding of national traditions, needs, and the capability to implement.

In April 2017, BSC began its engagement with the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), an intergovernmental organization based in South Africa, to build capability for Public Financial Management (PFM) reform in Africa. BSC provides an action based learning course on using the PDIA approach to solve locally nominated PFM problems. This program includes online modules/assignments, in-person workshop training and virtual as well as in-person coaching.

Matt Andrews CABRI Workshop

In May 2017, self-selected teams from Ghana, Liberia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and The Gambia attended a workshop in South Africa, equipped with a pressing PFM problem that they wanted to solve. Over four days, the teams were guided through a process of creating a problem statement that matters, deconstructing the problem to its root causes, identifying suitable entry points for action for the next two weeks and deciding what success would look like in six months. Each team was also paired with a coach from CABRI to support the team.

After the workshop, we stayed connected with the teams with frequent online individual and team assignments, asking for updates on what was done, what was learned, and what was next. The CABRI coaches also held regular check-ins with their teams (both remote and in-person) to keep the teams motivated and on track.

In December 2017, the teams re-convened at a final workshop to present what they had achieved and learned over the previous 7 months and what was next. A group of 40 public servants successfully completed the training program.

Collaborating with an organization to conduct PDIA training is a relatively new approach for BSC and we have been pleased with the results so far. 90% of the government officials completed an evaluation survey and 100% of them rated the quality of the program as excellent or very good. Here is what one participant had to say about the experience:

“This program is unique and different to any PFM training I have attended. Why? The program took the ‘do it yourself’ approach. It used the local themselves as the experts to define, and with guidance and support from the CABRI team find solution to the defined problem. Other PFM training I attended in the past, like the Medium Term Expenditure Framework training, the experts were those that came from outside with their very exotic ideas that basically left when the ‘experts’ packed off and left. They just didn’t work.”

To learn more about the Building PFM Capabilities program:

Summary page for the closing workshop with all team presentations.