International Journal of Auditing – April 2010
Auditor-General of South Africa and First Vice Chairman of the INTOSAI Governing Board
South Africa has looked forward to 2010 with great anticipation. With the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup taking place in our country June 11–July 11, the entire nation is ready and waiting to welcome foreign visitors with open arms. The staff of the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa have also been eagerly awaiting the 2010 XX INCOSAI as an opportunity to reaffirm relationships, share knowledge, and showcase our beautiful country to our peer supreme audit institutions (SAI).
The XX INCOSAI will take place in Johannesburg, November 22–27, 2010. The vibrant city of Johannesburg, located in the Gauteng province of South Africa, is known by several names locally, ranging from Joburg and Jozi to Egoli, which means place of gold. By whichever name you want to call it, the city is South Africa’s largest and busiest metropolitan area and one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world. The congress itself will take place at the world-class Sandton International Convention Centre, which is conveniently located close to hotels, shopping centers, and tourist attractions.
During the week of the congress, several side meetings will also take place, including the 60th and 61st Governing Board meetings. Various committees, working groups, and task forces will report to delegates on the results of their work. In addition to these formal discussions and meetings, ample opportunity will be provided for informal discussions and networking during the course of the week.
The two technical themes chosen for the XX INCOSAI demonstrate INTOSAI’s desire and commitment to remain relevant by addressing issues of topical interest in the public sphere. The South African SAI has the dual responsibility and honor of both hosting the XX INCOSAI and chairing one of the two technical themes. As chair of theme I, the value and benefits of SAIs, we are particularly excited about the discussions during the congress and their outcomes because they will have far-reaching benefits for SAIs and will henceforth play a fundamental role in the way SAIs are viewed across the world.
Environmental management is very significant in today’s global consciousness. Theme II, environmental auditing and sustainable development, provides an excellent opportunity for SAIs to show support for the growing movement toward responsible behavior in preserving our environment. In light of this, we are committed to hosting an environmentally responsible INCOSAI. While hosting “green” conferences is a relatively new concept and going completely paperless is not feasible for this year’s INCOSAI, we will be attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of this event as far as possible. We hope that this effort will provide a platform for future congresses to improve upon.
In addition to discussions surrounding the two official technical themes of the congress, XX INCOSAI will also see the official launch of the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI). This is a momentous event for INTOSAI—the culmination of the collaborative effort of multiple SAIs to develop a set of standards that address the unique demands of the public sector auditing environment. We in the South African SAI were represented on many committees and working groups that participated in developing these standards, and supporting their implementation is one of our paramount objectives for the congress. This also speaks directly to our intention to strengthen our adoption of the International Standards of Auditing (ISA) (which we completed 4 years ago) by adding the ISSAI’s formalized guidance to our methodology in the coming year.
In organizing the XX INCOSAI, our primary objective is to provide an environment conducive to productive discussions with high-quality standards of technical content that will continue to benefit the INTOSAI community long after 2010. We are also eager to share with delegates our national pride in our beautiful and vibrant country. South Africa has a rich and diverse history that demonstrates the resilience of our people. Through carefully selected social and cultural events and excursions, we look forward to giving you a glimpse of our unique cultures and natural beauties as well as an insight into our history of peaceful transition and transformation.
In realizing these objectives, we are making every effort to ensure efficient logistical arrangements that will make the congress exceptionally productive and enjoyable for all participants. A comprehensive congress Web site (www.incosai.co.za) has been launched to provide participants and SAIs with all the information they need to take part in the XX INCOSAI.
The Web site will be continually updated to include new information on the congress, and SAIs will be notified regularly about these updates. The site will also include an online registration capability later in the year, which will provide a smooth registration process for all participants and accompanying persons.
When it became time for us to develop the unique congress logo for the XX INCOSAI, we took inspiration from the baobab tree. While the baobab is not unique to South Africa, it is a nationally protected tree with a wealth of cultural significance. It flourishes on the hot, sunny African plains and can be found in several African countries.
Known in many parts as “the tree of life,” the baobab has always been the traditional meeting place for far-off tribes and villagers to come together and share their knowledge. Public meetings, community councils, or traditional village law courts held under the baobabs are known as “kgotla” in Botswana and “lekgotla” in South Africa. They are usually headed by the village chief or headman, and community decisions are always arrived at by consensus. This concept finds resonance with the INTOSAI motto, “Mutual experience benefits all.”
The diamonds within the baobab tree not only refer to the rich natural resources of South Africa and the African continent, they also create a direct link to INTOSAI’s five official languages. These language diamonds will be used throughout the XX INCOSAI to distinguish between the official languages and make them clearly visible.
It is my great privilege to extend a formal invitation to all INTOSAI members to meet on the southernmost tip of Africa for the 20th INTOSAI congress in November 2010. I look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful country.