The adoption and implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Rwanda

Abstract: Accounting has played a significant role in globalization through instruments like the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB), the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) which have harmonized global business practices. With the spread of globalization, the persistence of local realities has become a global issue. While IFRS has been adopted across the world, local contexts are impeding its smooth implementation.This study investigates this phenomenon in the Rwandan context by discussing how IFRS has been adopted by commercial banks in Rwanda and in sub-Saharan African countries. In Rwanda, IFRS’ adoption was influenced by the country’s economic context (dire need for reconstruction), social context (Rwandans with different accounting traditions due to the conflict and the movement of people across the region and in the world and their returning to their home country) and the political context (colonial legacy and accounting initiatives of the independent African countries and Rwanda’s regional and international integration policies).My findings suggest that the adoption of IFRS was done after intense preparations and its implementation was monitored as it was believed that these standards would catalyze the government’s economic development goals. The findings also show the bi-directional relationship between accounting and the environment in which it operates. While IRFS’ adoption was swayed by the prevailing environment these standards also formed a part of the country’s strategy for economic development and a mechanism for promoting equity among its citizens.The findings also show that the professionalization of accounting was context bound and was influenced by the accounting environment in Rwanda and that professionalization contributed to conflict prevention and resolution among accounting practitioners. The study also shows that the government played a big role in the development of accounting as a profession.

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