Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
For a Special Issue on
Accounting and Accountability in Africa
15 April 2025
Special Issue Editor(s)
University of Guelph
Robert Gordon University
University of Southampton
Accounting and Accountability in Africa
In recent years, a stream of reviews has highlighted the neglect of accounting research in African settings despite notable efforts and emerging work across the continent The limited visibility of how accounting and its cognate or related phenomena, for example, auditing, governance, financial reporting, sustainability reporting, public and third sectors accounting, operate in Africa has been explained by several factors, such as relatively small or under-developed financial markets, low research capacity and incentives for publication for African-based scholars, and marginalisation by mainstream journals. Similarly, the majority of studies that have been conducted are in a relatively small number of African countries and are published by Africans working in Western institutions.
Furthermore, these reviews reveal a very narrow and fragmented picture of practices and implications in selected countries or regions, typically English-speaking ones. For example, studies in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Ghana often emerge, but there is virtually none when it comes to other parts of the continent that are not English-Speaking. From the perspective of many scholars and policymakers, these may appear to be ‘small’, ‘peripheral’ or ‘unimportant’. However, they are not only representative of large and diverse geographical and populated settings but also contain vast amounts of resources eagerly sought and fought for. While the accounting, governance and sustainability implications of the resource curse have emerged in the past, these have been typically limited to a few countries and do not necessarily take into consideration recent geopolitical developments and how they appear to severely affect citizens and communities. Hence, an understanding of accounting, reporting and other transparency initiatives as an enabling or constraining mechanism in these processes at the corporate, state and third-sector levels is critical.
Furthermore, even in cases where research has been done, the emphasis has been on so-called formal accounting and accountability mechanisms that pertain to relatively small parts of many national economies. For example, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report estimates that nearly 83% of employment in Africa is in the so-called informal sector. A recent Africa MSME Pulse Survey Report (2023) suggests that 90% of all businesses are small businesses and according to Mastercard, sub-Saharan Africa alone has 44 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. There is virtually no understanding of these businesses, thereby leading to an absence of meaningful and targeted policy interventions. In a similar vein, we would argue that most of the extant African accounting research, while well-intended and contributing rich insights, has not given due attention to the range of micro ‘informal’ organisations in Africa, such as traders/sellers, micro-food processing businesses, transport operators, farmers, and cooperatives, and in what ways ‘their’ accounting and calculative practices operate. Therefore, we join Lassou et al. (2021a) in their plea “for more research paying attention to local contexts and issues derived bottom-up from grounded research, and employing theories that resonate meaningfully with African settings”(p. 3), inclusive of the role of African thinkers in understanding and theorising accounting practices. In a similar vein, Waweru et al. (2023, p. 127) state that “accounting research on Africa needs to focus less on financialisation and more on development issues, for example, SEA; corruption; taxation; small, medium, and micro enterprises; government accounting; governance; professionalization; NGOs and the role international financial and Western accounting institutions play.”
There is equally an insufficient understanding of accounting and governance practices in specific sectors, particularly about attempts to embed sustainability accounting, reporting on sustainable development goals and other related frameworks. More recently, subsidiaries and other entities have become subject to, or are being exhorted to adopt, a raft of international non-financial reporting standards and there is little insight about their preparedness or actual implementation and challenges thereof in Africa.
In addition, accounting research in Africa has focused on corporate behaviours and unsustainable practices, particularly within the extractive industries and their impacts on indigenous communities but we are yet to provide insights into the consequences of structural inequalities, vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of accounting practices and technologies designed to tackle grand challenges These policy frameworks designed to improve the lived experience and the impact of individuals, organisations and society on sustainable development require extensive attention particularly from African scholars to influence policy making and practices established to build a sustainable future. These policy solutions need to be brought to the fore to understand sustainable and unsustainable practices in other sectors beyond the extractive sector in Africa.
Furthermore, in Africa, more empirical research is required to understand how accounting, accountability, (un)supportive institutional and regulatory frameworks for the provision of housing will contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and in supporting a sustainable society and future. There is an insufficient appreciation of how accounting and accountability are implicated in policies and practices designed to alleviate the plights of the marginalised and low-income households in Africa. Globally, there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing. This is more pronounced in developing countries (including African ones), where low-income families are forced to live in informal settlements, slums, overcrowded and inadequate housing conditions due to the lack of decent affordable housing Access to housing finance is still an undeveloped initiative in Africa and as evidenced in the Western world, this is fundamental to the provision of affordable housing for the public. Homelessness has been on the rise across the world, but we still do not know how homelessness and the lack of affordable decent housing have or are being addressed in Africa. Also, climate change is on the rise globally and government response to mitigating the impacts of climate change is also becoming a core agenda of their policies, but housing is one of the largest emitters of carbon
To this end, this Accounting Forum Special Issue, therefore, invites submissions addressing the above themes and topics from a wide range of empirical, methodological and theoretical approaches. We are particularly interested in geographical and/or sectoral settings or indigenous forms of accounting that have not been previously explored or studied in Africa
We encourage interdisciplinary, Afrocentric methods and methodology, which deal with the question of African identity from the perspective of African people, challenge the dominant worldview of research and the production of knowledge, and provide new insights and dimensions in the understanding of African indigenous voices, culture, and context. Specifically, we would like to encourage authors to endeavour to fully understand and carefully consider the unique African contextual and developmental issues, draw insights from relevant theories, and collect and employ appropriate data analysis techniques. Notably, Ntim (2022) draws attention to the use of ‘naive empiricism’ in some quantitative-led African-based studies where methods and theories that are typically more suitable to industrialised economies that are uncritically transposed to the African context. This tends to impede their uniqueness, and therefore, their ability to make a distinct contribution to broader extant debates within the positivist empirical accounting literature.
Papers addressing several important indicative sets of accounting research topics within the African context employing a variety of research methods, from geographic regions/populace, with different language or colonial origins in different settings are all welcomed, including, but not limited to:
- (Anti)Corruption and Taxation in Africa
- Accounting and accountability for water and waste management in Africa
- Accounting and gender in Africa
- Accounting for a green economy, including preparedness for the ISSB standards.
- Accounting for disaster, climate change and climate justice in Africa
- Accounting for extinction and biodiversity in Africa
- Accounting for housing, homelessness, right to adequate housing and sustainable housing policies in Africa.
- Accounting for human rights and accountable institutions, including judicial accountability and accounting for social justice in Africa.
- Accounting history in Africa
- Accounting practices in the informal sector, semi-formal, SMEs and state-owned enterprises in Africa
- Accounting, accountability, indigenous people and conflict resolution in Africa
- Auditing, including the role of supreme audit institutions in Africa.
- Corporate governance and accountability in Africa
- Financial accounting and reporting, including the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Africa.
- Local, indigenous, and native accounting, auditing and taxation practices in Africa
- NGO accountability and counter accounting in Africa
- Social, health and environmental accounting (SEA), including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
- Supply chain, modern slavery, workers’ rights, workplace regulation and sustainable development in Africa.
- Sustainability accounting, accountability, assurance and reporting in Africa.
- The accounting profession, accounting education and professionalisation projects in Africa.
Preparatory Virtual Workshops
To help support the authors develop their work for submission to the Special Issue, the Guest Editors will organise one online workshop in April 2024 where they will invite draft papers or extended abstracts. A second online workshop will be held in early 2025. These sessions will provide an opportunity for authors to gather feedback prior to the opening of the submission system on 15 January 2025. Those wishing to present at the online workshops should contact the Guest Editors via e-mail (addresses listed above). Further details about the online workshops will be communicated in due course. Authors of selected papers from the workshops will be invited to submit their revised papers to this Special Issue, subject to the journal’s normal review processes.
Preparatory Conferences in Africa
There will also be an opportunity to interact with the Guest Editors as part of Special Track sessions (subject to confirmation) at the 13th African Accounting and Finance Association (AAFA) Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe (September 2024) and/or at the 1st CSEAR Africa Conference in Nigeria (November 2024). See the call for papers to the 1st CSEAR Africa Conference https://csear.co.uk/event/the-2024-african-congress-on-social-and-environmental-accounting-research-1st-csear-africa-conference/
Attendance and/or presentation at the workshop and/or the conference(s) is not a prerequisite for submission to the Special Issue. We will consider all submissions, including those that were not presented at the online workshops or during the above-mentioned conferences.
Submission and Deadlines
- Submissions will open on January 31, 2025.
- All submissions to the Special Issue will be reviewed in accordance with Accounting Forum’s editorial process.
- The special issue is expected to be published in 2026.
- Please adhere to the journal’s instructions for authors.
- The Guest Editors welcome enquiries and declarations of interest from those interested in submitting articles. Enquiries about the special issue should be directed to any of the editors by e-mail.