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August 15, 2011

Two years of PFM at AFRITAC-West

Posted by Benoit Taiclet

The past two years I was assigned to the West African Regional Technical Assistance Center—AFRITAC-West (AFW) in Bamako, Mali as an IMF resident PFM advisor. I had the privilege to give this assignment my best effort—and join a hard working team devoted to their job and customers, the member countries. This short post describes the daily business in AFW as it carries out relevant technical assistance (TA) with willing and responsive national teams.

AFRITAC-West at a glance[1]: AFW is one of the two IMF Regional Technical Assistance Centers (RTACs) for West African countries. It delivers capacity-building technical assistance and training to ten countries in Western Africa. Center coordinator, local staff and eight resident advisors (RAs), provide support on broad areas of TA, public financial management, tax and customs administration, statistics, debt management, banking supervision.

Fields of expertise: alongside my colleague, also a PFM resident advisor, but expert in fiscal reporting and cash management[2], I was devoted to budgeting and information systems issues. The map above shows the PFM activities in the recent years of the AFW member countries.

In the Air: the average schedule for each AFW resident advisor  is “2 weeks in (Bamako)—2 weeks out (in the member countries)”. The job is all about bringing relevant TA to the customers, on their ministries, as often as possible. From October 2009 to June 2011, I carried out 20 TA missions, implying 40 weeks spent on site and travelled more than 24,000 miles mostly flight by, I could say, “surprising” regional airlines. Sometimes travel by car was necessary. With associated short term experts I delivered some 122 weeks of direct, on- site support to beneficiary countries within the 20 month period.

International and regional expertise: Of the experts I worked with some 38% were international consultants (mainly French and Canadian), the other 62% were regional experts usually working in governmental or international organizations located in the African region. All experts were French speaking, and all of them had their own area of outstanding expertise (medium term frameworks, result-oriented budgeting, audit, IFMIS, cash management, change management).

Regional cooperation: AFW is tailored to regional needs (field-based, using/building local expertise, supporting regional integration) and integrated with multilateral goals (aligned with the IMF’s other activities, coordinated with donors /TA providers, in line with the Paris Declaration). All field activities are conducted in liaison, in cooperation, or jointly with: UNDP, World Bank, JSA, GIZ, French cooperation, WAEMU commission.

Looking for results: AFWwork plans and reports to its Steering Committee call for real and measurable outcomes. To realize this, the strategy has been to concentrate efforts on critical points among weaknesses identified by the IMF’s African and Fiscal Affairs Departments. We then develop, jointly with member governments, result-oriented multi-year TA projects. Thanks to willing and devoted national teams we have thus far achieved significant outcomes among which:

I have now recently been assigned to IMF Headquarters in the Public Financial Management Division II within the Fiscal Affairs Department. After two years spent working with colleagues with great team spirit and friendship, I have to bid farewell to them: Olivier Benon, Demba Tignokpa, Coumba Gueye, Raymond Bernard, Ahmed Boilil, Modeste Mopa, Eric Métreau, Jean Gustave Sanon, and to local staff, Anne Marie Siby, Mouphtah Zoubeida, Mama Tall, Bilal Bagayoko.

In any case, this is a small world: Washington is not that far from the sunny slopes of Bamako. Hopefully there will be many other opportunities to do exciting work with AFRITAC-West.   

[1] Looking for more details? Please consult the AFW website.

[2] Ms. Félicienne Padonou untill April 2010; Mr. Jean Gustave Sanon thereafter.

Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.


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