Accepted Paper:

Quality assurance at the University of Makeni, Sierra Leone: a case of 'audit explosion' in a globalizing Africa?  


David O'Kane (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

The University of Makeni is the first private university in Sierra Leone. This paper describes the reactions of the university's staff, and the social entrepreneurs who are its leaders, to the introduction of audit mechanisms often associated with neoliberal ideology.

Paper long abstract:

Since the early 1990s, some scholars have argued that the world is experiencing a global 'audit explosion', in which practices of auditing previously confined to financial accounting are spreading into new social areas, and, in a rapidly globalizing world, into new geographical areas. One such area may be the West African state of Sierra Leone. In the wake of the civil war of 1991 - 2002, new experiences of audit are appearing as the country reconstructs itself. The private University of Makeni (UNIMAK), which has numerous links with networks both local and global, has introduced quality assurance mechanisms that will involve audit processes of some kind. Their appearance in the country's first private university represents a new chapter in the history of audit mechanisms in Sierra Leone. Using interview and participant observation data, this paper describes both UNIMAK's links with external partners and its introduction of quality assessment and assurance mechanisms. While the ultimate outcome of this process is not yet foreseeable, it seems likely that the introduction of auditing for quality assurance in UNIMAK will be strongly determined by local conditions. Therefore, this paper argues that even if this is a case of the 'audit explosion' reaching post-civil war Sierra Leone, it is also a case that compels us to better integrate local conditions into our understanding of the spread of auditing as a part of twenty-first century globalization.

Panel P112
Cultural entrepreneurs in Africa: endeavors, constraints and pathways of success (EASA Africanist Network)