CALL FOR PAPERS Special Issue of Accounting Forum “Accounting and Accountability in Africa”

Apr 15, 2025
Apr 15, 2025

Guest Editors
Teerooven Soobaroyen, Aston University (
Philippe Lassou, University of Guelph (
Sarah Lauwo, Robert Gordon University (
Mercy Denedo, Durham University (
Collins Ntim, University of Southampton (

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 (Kan et al., 2021; Moses & Hopper, 2022; Ndemewah & Hiebl, 2022; Waweru et al., 2023). 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 (Negash et al., 2019). 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 (Changwony & Paterson 2019; Ejiogu et al., 2019; 2021; Lauwo et al., 2016; Moses & Hopper, 2022; Ntim, 2022; Otusanya et al., 2015; Soobaroyen & Mahadeo, 2016).

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 (e.g., Arabic, French, and Portuguese), such as Sudan, Niger, Chad, Algeria, Madagascar, Namibia, and Mozambique. 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 (e.g., IFRS, IPSAS, governance codes) that pertain to relatively small parts of many national economies (Areneke et al., 2022). For example, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report estimates that nearly 83% of employment in Africais 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 (refer e.g., Fukofuka et al., 2023; Jacobs & Kemp, 2002). 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 (e.g., mining, state-owned enterprises, listed companies, banks and financial institutions), particularly about attempts to embed sustainability accounting, reporting on sustainable development goals and other related frameworks (Qian et al., 2021; Cho & Wachira, 2022; Lauwo et al., 2022). More recently, subsidiaries and other entities have become subject to, or are being exhorted to adopt, a raft of international non-financial reporting standards (e.g., European Union Corporate Social Reporting Directive, CSRD; International Sustainability Standards Board, ISSB; France’s ‘Devoir de Vigilance’ (Due Diligence) reporting requirements) and there is little insight about their preparedness or actual implementation and challenges thereof in Africa (Baboukardos et al. 2023).

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 (Denedo et al., 2017; 2019; Egbon et al., 2018; Lauwo & Otusanya, 2014; Lauwo et al., 2023; Phiri et al., 2019; Uche & Khalid, 2002; forthcoming) 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 (see Denedo & Egbon, 2020). For example, the African Union Goals & Priority Areas of Agenda 2063; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to challenge all forms of exploitation and modern slavery, and inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of people (among others). 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 (African Development Bank, 2022; United Nations, 2020). Access to housing finance is still an undeveloped initiative in Africa and as


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