Conference: the Adoption of International Accounting Reporting Standards in Africa

One consequence of globalization has been the emergence of international accounting reporting standards. Although such standards were mainly developed in the context of the dynamics and size of business operations in developed countries, these standards are now being increasingly applied to developing countries. In the past two decades, for example, there has been a major drive by international multilateral institutions like the World Bank to coerce developing countries, including those in Africa, to adopt such international standards. The official argument has been that the adoption of such international standards by publicly quoted companies and public interest companies will help to improve the business governance space in the continent. This argumentation no doubt has some degree of legitimacy. Its defence on the contentious argument that vast amount of resources flow from developed countries to developing countries, however, raises questions about the real motivations for the World Bank actions.

Despite this, a majority of African countries have now adopted  or agreed to IFRS. This is so despite the fact that many of these countries do not have capital markets and by extension do not have publicly quoted companies that are the  main targets of these standards by design. Even in most of the African countries with stock exchanges, the market capitalization is comparatively very small. It is for instance not unusual for quoted companies in such African countries to be much smaller, both in turnover and capitalization, than SMEs in developed countries. Other public interest entities in Africa, where international accounting standards have been widely adopted include banking and insurance. Again, the fact that these industries are very small when compared with the industries in developed jurisdictions where these standards originated has been of little consequence in the widespread adoption of such standards in Africa. If anything, such standards are now being applied to micro finance banks in Africa. Again, the fact that the accounting profession in such countries are not generally developed enough to understand and/ or operationalize such international standards have not helped matters.   

In general, in adopting international standards across the business space in Africa, emphasis has been placed on the potential benefits of such global standards and not on the costs of the adoption for fragile African economies and businesses. It is as a consequence of the above that it has been argued that such regulations sometimes impede rather than aid business development in Africa.

Speakers during the conference will be:

  • H.E. Oji Ngofa, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Kingdom of the Netherlands (special guest).
  • Hans Hoogervorst, chair of the International Accounting Standards Board, London (special guest).
  • Christian Migan, former president of CNC-OHADA and ABWA: 'Barriers to the Adoption of IFRS in French speaking West Africa'.
  • Prof. Christopher Napier, Royal Holloway University, London: 'Adopting the International Financial Reporting Standards for Small and Medium Sizes Entities in Africa: Good Practice or Western Hegemony?'.
  • Prof. Kees Camfferman, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: 'a Historical Perspective on African Participation in Standard Setting by IASC and IAS'.
  • Dr Solomon Zori, Rotterdam School of Management: 'IFRS Adoption in Africa and Accounting Quality: Has Accounting Quality Improved?'.
  • Dr Innocent Okwuosa, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria: 'IFRS Adoption Implementation in Nigeria: Challenges and Future Prospects'.
  • Dr Matthias Nnadi, University of Cranfield, United Kingdom: 'the Role of Neo-Colonialism on IFRS Adoption in Africa'.
  • Prof. Chibuike Uche, African Studies Centre Leiden: 'The Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards in Africa: an Overview'.

(The full programme will be announced soon).

Date, time and location

03 April 2020
09.00 - 17.00
Pieter de la Court building / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5.A41