With a continent increasingly characterised by corporate scandals, cyber threats, new technology, transparency requirements and an ever-changing regulatory environment, the demands on the modern CFO have become greater than ever before.
Within this milieu, it has become necessary to reassess the role of the CFO – what they do and the underlying competencies and qualifications required to perform their jobs. This has highlighted the need for a more supportive network of financial executives in Africa, as well as the globalisation of the CFO role for practitioners on the continent.
In response to this need, countries such as South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco have collaborated to provide greater structure to the CFO job function in the form of an Africa association for CFOs, which will offer better support for the job function, as well as networking opportunities and shared access to information.
Following this, the South African Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) recently joined forces with similar organisations in Lesotho, Morocco and Tunisia to found a new association that represents and regulates CFOs across Africa, namely the Finance Executive Institute Africa (FEIA).
The collaborative effort is aimed at assisting countries without existing CFO associations to develop their own bodies, as well as to create a networking function between financial executives across Africa to share best practices and standardise codes of conduct and competency. This will ensure that companies operating in Africa will receive the same level of service and quality from CFOs throughout the continent.
Saiba CEO, Nicolaas van Wyk provides context for the need to develop an association for financial executives in Africa. “When African countries gained independence from colonisers, they did not automatically gain a seat at the global table and were not treated as equals. For example, when it came to applying for finance, African countries have to go through European countries.
“This trend continues today and has been exacerbated by the global pandemic and recent recession. Right now, we have another fight for resources on our hands and, sadly, when Africa represents itself, it often loses out to other countries. Where does this leave us? Possibly back in the 1950s when Africa had to reposition itself as truly nationalist and independent from America, Europe and Asia.”
To establish independence, Africa needs to align itself not only at a political level, but at a financial level. CFOs on the continent need to become aware of the critical role they play in the bigger picture as financial professionals working in large state owned entities, international conglomerates and private companies. Nurturing this self awareness amongst financial executives will assist Africa in representing itself at the World Bank, UN or other international financial reporting boards, ensuring the continent adopts an African position that protects its economy.
While this is a more philosophical reason for developing the African association for CFOs, on a more practical level, the move will enhance uniformity and accountability. “There needs to be a strong feeling of Africa-first. Without this, CFOs will only continue to assist large corporations move money out of Africa and into international economies, something that needs to change if we are going to build a resilient African economy,” notes van Wyk.
Meriam Ben Boubaker, president of the Tunisian Association of Management Controllers and Financial Managers (COGEREF), a non-profit association created in April 2011, affirms that the positioning of the African continent does not need to be defended, nor discussed. “What we need is an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, led by its own citizens and which represents a dynamic force on the world stage. The emergence of Africa is paramount for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, the latter two of which reflect a visionary approach of the African Union which is active in transforming Africa into a future world power.
Meriam Ben Boubaker says “the genesis of this new lobbying of financiers was due to the awareness of African financial leaders of the need to refocus and redefine Africa’s priorities in terms of economic and social development; of the continental and regional integration of the main projects aimed at the influence of African finance among other questions aimed at repositioning Africa to become a dominant actor on the world stage of the field of Finance in general.
“The first link in the chain of this network is made up of organizations working in the world of finance and representing South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Our organization is an alliance between African actors of the most prominent influencers on the economic scene and representing a dynamic force on the world stage of organizations and financial bodies. It is also on a basis of common values based on the principles of good governance that the FEA has been created in order to develop financial networking and cooperation for a prosperous and emerging Africa.
“We are convinced that it is through diversity, unity, exchanges and benchmarks that our various organizations will be strengthened and that we will succeed in making them shine. Together, we could contribute to the success of global, regional and national development programmes.”
Van Wyk says there has been progress in the development of the association with immediate uptake from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, with support, interest and optimism from countries in North Africa, who are committed to an African renaissance.
Noureddine Elouajih, president of the Northern Financial Club in Morocco believes that in a turbulent world marked by increasing uncertainties and tensions on the economic level, the African continent offers itself a position of choice in terms of economic attractiveness on the international level, thanks to its assets and its dynamism of growth. “It is therefore necessary to improve the institutional dynamic marked by a desire to accelerate African regional economic integration with the recent announcement of the effective launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the adoption of a single currency and positioning Africa as a significant player in the world economy.
FEIA will support the growth dynamic of the continent through an anticipatory, educational and prospective approach, allowing the emergence of real African financial “know-how” adapted to the technical and cultural specificities of the African environment, which will better meet the growing needs of governments and economic operators.
“There are significant developments in other countries and we have drawn up a constitution for the association, which will be in English and French. The next steps will be to register the Non-Profit Organisation in South Africa, which will be the secretariat for the association. Other countries with existing CFO bodies will be invited to join us when we host them at our inaugural Africa conference in Tunisia in mid- to late 2021,” concludes van Wyk.
Biographies of African Spokespeople
Nicolaas van Wyk
Skilled CEO experienced in the Professional Body and NPO sector with demonstrated success in enhancing organisational reputation, recognition and member growth. More than 10 years of making substantial impacts with forward-thinking, resourceful and adaptable strategies. Successful at understanding markets, key business decisions and financial operations. Key characteristics are originality, energy, and a drive to build or design improved organisations that can deliver meaningful impact, by finding solutions and fixing problems. My biggest contribution to a new employer will be as charismatic individual who will serve as the public image of the organization, showcasing and defending its strengths, backed up by knowledge and understanding of their industry and business model. Qualifications: BCom, BCom Hons, MBA, Dipl Corporate Law, BAP(SA), CFO(SA), Area President Africa (IAFEI).
• Re-established the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA) as a successful professional accountancy membership body growing from 300 members in 2013 to more than 9,000 in 2020.
• Originated the concept of a newspaper based online platform for accountants and finance executives – www.accountingweekly.com and www.cfotalks.com as lead generators for Saiba and to drive thought leadership initiatives. Adhered to ethical guidelines and standards to promote responsible publication and media practices.
• Originated the concept of an online learning platform for accountants and finance executives – www.saiba.academy to facilitate CPD, Upskilling, and Specialisation assessments and courses.
• Ultimate oversight of Phase 1, 2, and 3 of the Saiba relaunch project. Now in its 7th year there are a total of 20 live projects under management.
• Expanding SAIBA in a highly congested market of 10 competing associations requires new ideas that is relevant to the South African reality and building a network of accessible government, private sector, professional bodies and academia decision-makers.
• International exposure in a global body for finance executives. Organised and hosted a CFO World Congress in 2016 in Cape Town and participated as an organising committee member in 2019 for the Congress in Italy.
Mr. Noureddine Elouajih, from Marrakech, aged 59, has more than 32 years of expertise in the field of financial and administrative management. He has held several positions of responsibility in several companies, the last of which was Administrative and Financial Director of the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline project. Mr. Noureddine Elouajih is an associate in the northern region of Morocco, since he continues to collaborate with several renowned regional, national and international associations, and currently chairs the Club des Financiers du Nord for more than 12 years, a professional association which brings together some sixty financial directors. Mr. Noureddine Elouajih, occupies “violin of ingres” in music and enjoys sports activities such as hikes and trips of discovery amongst others. He is happily married and is the father of three boys.
Meriam Ben Boubaker
Ms. Meriam Ben Boubaker has more than 19 years of expertise in the field of performance management, management of information systems and CSR. She has held several positions of responsibility including the last position as project manager in a ministerial cabinet, in charge of designing and setting up partnerships and networks of expertise. She is responsible for a large public company where she contributed to the design and implementation of management control and systems of information. Meriam has also developed expertise in governance and management of companies and projects. Passionate about the transmission of good practices and attentive to personal and professional progress, Meriam is Coach, Trainer and Freelance Consultant in Performance Management, Project Management, Process Creation, organizational Corporate social responsibility and communication. She is also very active in specialized professional civil society, she has held several positions of responsibility in the executive office of COGEREF of which she is currently president. She is also an active member in associations dealing with citizenship, economic and social development and governance.
Boukherroub Hacėne was born in Tizi-ouzou, Algeria. He is 47 years old and is happily married with three children. He resides in Algeria. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field of finance and accounting. His current position is Director of Finance and Comparability at the Hotel, Tourism and Termalism. He is also a member of the “Association Nationale des Directeurs Financiers et de Contrôle de Gestion” (DFCG).