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Auditing the Auditor Places Internal Audit Above Board

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Photo: By Timisu on Pixabay

By Stephen Were, CIA

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement – Helmut Schmidt

Internal auditors primarily aim is to improve governance by critiquing the work of others (audit clients) within the organizations they serve. Audit work involve among others evaluating those clients’ performance and processes to assess their adequacy in adding value, and in supporting the achievement of missions and goals.

The internal auditors expect their clients to never be afraid of critique, and to embrace the audit process in the interest of continuous improvement. That requires cooperation, positively accommodating internal audit observations, and implementing the auditors’ recommendations to address control weaknesses.

If Internal audit is about improving organizations, and internal auditors are part of organizations, isn’t it appropriate that internal auditors also be subjected to audits for the purposes of improving the internal audits’ own operations and (the auditors’) performance?

You will agree, the sound answer is YES. Similar to the way in which internal audit provides independent assurance, Chief Audit Executives (CAEs) should also receive impartial reviews of the quality of their operations, and their performance. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Attribute Standard 1300 – Quality Assurance and Improvement Program require CAEs to develop and maintain quality assurance and improvement programs (QAIPs) that cover all aspects of the internal audit activity. A QAIP incorporates an external assessment that need to be conducted at least once every five years by qualified, independent assessors or assessment teams from outside organizations. External assessments are designed to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of internal audit functions, their conformance with professional standards, and to identify opportunities for improvement (Standard 1312 – External Assessments).

From the above, it is clear that as per IIA guidelines, there is a requirement for internal auditors to be audited. The quality assurance reviews done in line with the IIA Standard 1312 give reasonable assurance that the internal audit activity and each member of their staff conform to all mandatory elements of the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF). An internal audit activity that can demonstrate conformance to the IPPF is perceived as professional, and enjoys credibility with its stakeholders. Credibility is a critical asset to the internal audit activity.

However, studies undertaken by the IIA at a global level, as well as national institutes, have found that a large number of internal audit functions fail to undertake periodic external assessments as required by the Standard 1312. Of note however, mere conformance to the IPPF should not be the primary driver of internal audit quality assessments. The main aim should be the achievement of audit quality, which ultimately enhances performance, and increases the value of the organization.

To start with, it would serve internal auditors well if in their behavior, they mirror what they expect of their audit clients’, that is, to not be afraid of critique. Good internal auditors will understand that an independent person might identify issues that they may have overlooked, or remind them of processes that could be undertaken more efficiently and offer useful insights for improvement of internal audit operations and performance, the same way they expect their clients to have similar understanding.

Of note is that, the IIA Standards require the communication of results of quality assessments to senior management and the Board. By embracing regular external assessments, internal auditors also demonstrate that they are accountable, that they themselves are not afraid of audits, they are walking the talk of “no blind spots” and answering the question of “who audits the auditor?”. It also demonstrates that internal auditors too appreciate the knowledge external professionals can bring to the internal auditors’ processes. This can result in better acceptance of internal audit by corporate management.

While quality reviews may not necessarily make it easier for internal auditors when it comes to having their own activities being reviewed, internal auditors should at least gain insight into how their clients normally feel during audits. Such experiences can make internal auditors more empathic collaborators with the areas of the organization they regularly audit.

It is not uncommon for most internal audit services to articulate their shared valued in their strategy documents, key among them; accountability, transparency, commitment to the pursuit of excellence, professionalism, and collaborative relationships with stakeholders. Putting in place sustainable quality assurance programmes that incorporate regular external assessments go a long way in translating such value statements into concrete actions.

In any case, internal auditors can only expect to improve the organizations they serve when their audit work is of the highest quality. Realization of quality based on stakeholder expectations can be possible only when internal auditors remain open to constructive challenge that they rightfully expect of their audit clients.

So, internal auditors should rise up to the challenge and be open to regular audits. Stakeholders interested continued success of their organizations should also demand regular audits of the internal audit activity.

Adapted from: Internal Audit Quality – Developing a Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme – Sally-Anne Pitt

Stephen Were, CIA, is an Internal Auditor. He may be reached on swere36@gmail.com

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Energy

Sahara Foundation Promotes Clean Energy With Sahara Impact Fund

The Sahara Impact Fund will provide seed funding of $5,000 each for successful finalists, including incremental funding access based on impact, reach and sustainability matrices targeted at supporting young social entrepreneurs in Africa.

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Sahara Foundation, the corporate citizenship vehicle of energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, has launched the 2nd Cohort of the Sahara Impact Fund (SIF) and the Governance Unusual Program to support social innovators  creating solutions that increase access to clean energy and promote sustainable environments.

 The project reinforces Sahara Group’s commitment to bringing energy to life responsibly by connecting social innovators with opportunities that will enhance their contribution to eradicating energy poverty and enhancing environmental sustainability. The SIF is a strategic partnership involving Sahara Foundation, Ford Foundation, LEAP Africa and Impact Investors Foundation.

The Sahara Impact Fund will provide seed funding of $5,000 each for successful finalists, including incremental funding access based on impact, reach and sustainability matrices targeted at supporting young social entrepreneurs in Africa. In addition, the Fellows will have mentoring sessions with business leaders at Sahara Group and other private sector partners, to scale up clean energy and sustainable environment innovations.

The inaugural cohort of the SIF produced Fellows from Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Malawi who are spearheading transformative solutions through their businesses. According to Damilola Asaleye, Co- founder- Ashdam Solar “The learnings from the Sahara Impact Fund fellowship have become a daily guide for my organization to achieve our strategic plans of providing access to clean and affordable energy for all in Nigeria.”

“In addition to the seed capital, which was a great boost to my business, I have also built professional networks with like-minded passionate entrepreneurs from all over Africa,” said Ghislain Irakoze , Founder, Wastezon, Rwanda.

Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Sahara Foundation, said the Sahara Impact Fund and Governance Unusual program will reinforce ongoing conversations around increasing entrepreneurial capacity and inspiring a paradigm shift in governance through individual responsibility. “We are delighted to lead and join the quest of ensuring that no one is left behind when it comes to energy access and shore up expertise and capacity towards providing global solutions for environmental sustainability. We urge social innovators across Africa to apply to be part of this movement today,” she said.

Uzokwe said applications for the SIF are open from 9th May 2022 to 30th May 2022. “Full details of the application process are available across our social media platforms @iamsaharafdn and the Ujana Hub at www.ujanahub.com. Enquiries can also be sent to sahara.foundation@sahara-group.com,” she added.

The maiden edition in 2021 exposed the ten (10) social innovator fellows to blended capacity building sessions in the form of workshops, webinars, immersion sessions, facility tours, cohort meetings, mentoring sessions, one-on-one strategy & finance sessions and Fire chat sessions.

Since inception, Sahara Foundation has implemented various projects across its locations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, impacting the lives of over 2,000,000 beneficiaries, with youth accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries.

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Energy

Asharami Synergy Targets 30% Aviation Fuel Market Share To Enhance Economic Growth

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Asharami Synergy Limited, a Sahara Group Downstream Company, is investing in technology and innovative solutions to enhance its capacity to fuel seamless economic growth through operations in the aviation fuel market.

Asharami Synergy Limited, which is Nigeria’s first indigenous energy company to operate as an independent Aviation Fuel Marketer, controls about 25 percent market share in the industry, operating as the preferred aviation fuel market for local and international airlines.

Foluso Sobanjo, Head, Sahara Downstream Business, at a press briefing in Lagos, said investments in infrastructure, human capital transformation, quality, health,  safety, and environmental sustainability continues to drive service excellence in the organisation.

He said Asharami Synergy would leverage its technology driven supply chain efficiency across the Downstream value chain to deliver distinctive value and innovative solutions in the market. “We have been at the forefront of Oil and Gas enterprise in the West African region for over twenty years.”

In addition, “Asharami Synergy has a formidable presence in the sector, providing best-in-class fuel procurement and distribution solutions by utilizing innovative technology and improved efficiency across the downstream supply chain. Our quest for increased market share is borne out of our commitment to transforming the sector and spurring economic development,” Sobanjo said.

Asharami Synergy operates in four countries in the Africa and has a combined storage capacity of 81 million litres of Aviation fuel otherwise known as ATK.

The company has over 30 million litres storage capacity for ATK across various locations in Nigeria as well as a fleet of ultramodern bowsers spread across various locations, fueling the development and growth of the national and sub-regional economy by providing seamless access to safe and reliable ATK.

Sobanjo said “safety first and always” is the mantra that drives operations in Asharami Asharami Synergy, a development that has earned the company multiple International Standard Organisation certifications.

He said being a strategic partner of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) gives Asharami Synergy a global credibility that is driven by a statutory self-responsibility that propels its business operations in compliance with the highest global standards.

“Asharami Synergy has several ISO certifications; ISO 9001:2015 (Quality), ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental) and ISO 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety). This reinforces our commitment to bringing energy to life responsibly in all our operations. Our mantra is Safety First, Safety Always, ensuring that the health and safety of our employees and other stakeholders remains top priority in all business operations,” he added.

Asharami Synergy is a vertically integrated and foremost downstream company in the West African region with established and formidable presence in the sector, providing best-in-class fuel procurement and distribution solutions by utilizing innovative technology and improved efficiency across the downstream supply chain for over twenty years.

The company emerged from a consolidation of Sahara Group Downstream Companies with interest in procurement, storage, and distribution of white products across Nigeria.

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Business

Video: Oppo Reno 7 Launch

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Did you miss the big launch? Here is Bahati the singer and his wife during the Monday virtual launch of the Oppo Reno 7 phone in Kenya.

The colourful launch gives  the phone a leverage in the market ahead of the rest.

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