Enhancing Performance Auditing in Regional Economic Communities: A Case Study of the EAC

1. Introduction

Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are established to achieve various goals, but almost all are established for economic purposes and to reduce, if not eliminate, all intra-trade barriers.[1] The East African Community (EAC) integration objective has been primarily to progressively reach a “political Federation”.[2] RECs establish explicit structures such as the summit and the council, to name a few, while leaving room for other bodies if deemed necessary.[3]  That is, for instance, the case of the EAC.  However, some ad hoc commissions, such as audit commissions, are established to carry out audits of community accounts.[4] 

It is indisputable that accountability structures must be a foundational aspect of REC development. In pursuit of accountability, the implementation of performance audits at the regional level would ensure that citizens within RECs not only feel acknowledged but also actively engage in community programs.

2. What is performance auditing (PA)?

Performance Auditing is defined as “an independent, objective and reliable examination of whether government undertakings, systems, operations, programmes, activities or organisations are operating following the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness and whether there is room for improvement”.[5]

The role of PA is essentially to promote economical, effective, and efficient “Governance”, and contribute to “Accountability” and “Transparency”, while also serving as the basis for learning and improvement.[6]  Those are among the key principles that the EAC is founded on.[7] The alignment of EAC initiatives with the interests of its Partner States’ populations is crucial. However, it also introduces a degree of controversy.

2.1 Why performance auditing in RECs?

Regional integration schemes receive budgets inter alia from regional and international donations and state members’ contributions.[8]  Those contributions are often from revenues of the respective Partner states, including citizens’ contributions in one way or another, either through tax contributions or otherwise. To that end, the RECs should benefit its citizens through all its initiatives.

Therefore, comprehensive audit structures that include Performance auditing should be established in RECs to ensure accountability, improve efficiency, optimize resources, build stakeholders’ confidence, guide strategic planning, promote transparency, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Hence, it is a vital component in REC’s growth.

2.2 Performance Auditing in relation to EAC Governing Principles

    While discharging their respective functions, the EAC organs and institutions are bound by both fundamental and operational principles of the community.[9] Those respectively include “Accountability, Transparency, and social justice, as well as the recognition, promotion, and protection of human and people’s rights”[10] and “People-centeredness”.[11] The highlighted principles entail that  “Citizens” of the Partner States are placed at the center of the regional integration process and, thus, must participate in the community’s development initiatives and benefit from them.[12]  As a result, the EAC should be accountable to its citizens. 

    From the beginning up to now, the EAC introduced and is still introducing projects or programmes that are meant to bring changes not only to individual country members but to the citizens of the respective countries.[13] With the exception of bilateral or multilateral projects, wherein countries may establish auditing procedures through agreements, the existing treaty and its integral components lack a defined procedure for evaluating whether the programs and projects align with the community’s principles, particularly the concept of ‘people-centeredness.’ Consequently, there is no mechanism in place to ascertain whether these initiatives genuinely benefit the citizens of (EAC).

    2.3 Introducing or Enhancing the PA in RECs: What is the position in the EAC?

    Countries’ systems of accountability are carried out by permanent and often constitutionally established organs.[14] However, RECs’ model of auditing is carried out by ad hoc commissions such as the Audit Commission in EAC, external auditors in COMESSA,[15] and contrarywise by a court of auditors in the EU.[16]  The EAC commission (not a community organ under Article 9 of the treaty) is made up of the Auditors General of PSs, whose functions will be to audit the Community accounts and verify the proper allocation and distribution of the contributions received or revenue collected by the community.[17]

    Considering the EAC’s objective to establish a political union, i.e. the “political federation of the East African States”[18], taking into account the principles upon which the East African Community (EAC) is founded, it becomes evident that PA is indispensable. Regrettably, it was overlooked during the treaty drafting phase, resulting in a notable absence within the community’s accountability framework.

    3. The Importance of Consequent PA to Guarantee the Treaty‘s Effective Implementation

    Given the impact and changes that PA  brings to the citizens and community at large, it is proven essential since it provides information that can be used to improve operations, enhance accountability, and identify areas for improvement.[19]

    The review of the EAC’s existing literature proved that auditing models established by RECs are ignorable yet an important component in the progression of their respective agenda. The author suggests that the lack of a method of conducting PA at the regional level may impair the principles of accountability, good governance, and people-centeredness principles, enshrined within the treaty. Having such a mechanism will expose the community to the public, especially regarding the performance of its goals, and improve the integration prospects. 

    The information from this analysis would be used by regional policymakers, namely the audit commission and EAC members’ SAIs in developing a comprehensive model of accountability/auditing.

    4. Conclusion

    Performance Auditing has been a missing component in almost all RECs in Africa. However, PA is essential for the RECs to serve their ’ respective citizens ‘interests purposefully. The justification is that the number of programmes and projects increases over time as REC grows. Hence, it would not seem irrational to argue that there is no comprehensive mechanism at the regional level to assess whether their initiatives are being carried out effectively, economically, or efficiently in the interest of citizens.

    [1] Oker Gurler, ‘Role and function of Regional Blocs and arrangements in the formation of the Islamic common market’, (2000) 21 (4)  JEC,  < > accessed 12 December 2023.

    [2] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [1999], Art 5. 

    [3] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [1999], Art 9.  

    [4] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [1999], Art 134.

    [5] African Organisation of English-Speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (Afrosai-E), performance Audit handbook (, 2nd edn, Afrosai-E 2016)  2.

    [6] African Organisation of English-Speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (Afrosai-E), Performance Audit Handbook ( 2nd edn Afrosai-E  2016) 2.

    [7] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [1999], Art 6 f.

    [8] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [1999], Art 132.

    [9] Khoti Chilomba Kamanga and Ally Possi, ‘General principles Governing EAC integration’ in Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, John Eudes,  Ruhangisa Tom and Ottervanger Armin Cuyvers  (Eds), East African community laws: institutional, substantive and comparative EU aspects, (Boston: Brill Nihjoff, 2017) 202, 216.

    [10]Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [ 1999], Art. 6.

    [11] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [ 1999], Art 7 (1) (a).

    [12] Petro Protas and Theophil, Romward, ‘The reflection on ‘People centered principle’ in the East African Community: the current legal controversy’, (2015) 42(2) EALR, 5.

    [13] A few of these are the East African Community Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network, Analogue-to-Digital Broadcast Migration (ADBM), etc.

    [14] The Constitution of the Republic of  Rwanda, Art 166.

    [15] Treaty Establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)[1993] Art 169.

    [16] The Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of  European Union [2012] OJ C326/47, Art 285.

    [17] Treaty For The Establishment Of The East African Community [ 1999], Art 134, (2).

    [18] Wanyama Masinde and Christopher Otieno Omolo ‘The Road to East African Integration’ in Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, John Eudes,  Ruhangisa Tom and Ottervanger Armin Cuyvers  (Eds), East African community laws: institutional, substantive and comparative EU aspects, ( Boston: Brill Nihjoff, 2017) 13.

    [19]Ashish Kumar Srivastav  and Dheeraj V, ‘Performance Audit ’  <,and%20identify%20areas%20for%20improvement> accessed 23 November 2023.


    By Alphred Ntirenganya

    Alphred Ntirenganya works at the Office of Auditor General Rwanda as Performance Auditor Lawyer.

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