In conversation with Edgar Isingoma, Co-Lead of Social and Economic Development at KPMG IMPACT, KPMG in Uganda
Edgar Isingoma co-leads Social and Economic Development at KPMG IMPACT. Having been with the firm for 18 years, he is now the Country Leader/Managing Partner of KPMG in Uganda, Head of Infrastructure, Government and Health for KPMG’s Eastern Africa region and oversees KPMG’s advisory business in Uganda and Rwanda. In this conversation, we talk to Edgar about his vision for KPMG IMPACT and what ‘impact’ means to him.
Edgar, I understand you bring a wealth of experience to your new role, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I joined KPMG in December 2003, making this my 18th year with the firm. I’m based in the Kampala office, but I’ve learned to wear many hats here. Currently, I am the Country Leader for KPMG in Uganda and I also manage a lot of the government and advisory business across East Africa. And of course, in my latest role, I am co-leading the Social and Economic Development pillar of KPMG IMPACT.
What makes it exciting for you to co-lead Social and Economic Development at KPMG IMPACT?
What’s really exciting for me is the focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Coming from an emerging market, I understand how deeply the social aspects of development may affect the current and future trajectories of developing countries. There is a lot of potential, and a lot of work to be done.
Having been with KPMG for so long, I also understand our business and what we have to offer. KPMG has real potential to bring about tangible impact – whether that is through creating solutions to complex issues, drawing on our wealth of expertise from across the global base of KPMG firms, supporting governments with transformation and project delivery, or the myriad of other services we offer our clients.
How do you measure ‘success’?
I am someone who likes to look at the big picture. The micro is important, but I always like to step back and ask myself “what would be the broader impact of this?”.
And so, I see my own success through others. How have I empowered the people around me? Whether that is through developing other leaders in my region, supporting people when they are struggling, or facilitating positive change for the communities we live and work in. It’s important to me that people around me feel supported and are given the space to grow.
I also really value resilience. I don’t like to see ‘failure’ as failure, but rather as a teacher. When things don’t go our way I ask, “how could we have done better?” and it always yields results. In my opinion, this approach is the very reason that East Africa is one of KPMG’s fastest growing practices.
Can you tell us about some of the projects in your region where you see opportunities for KPMG to drive real impact?
There have been so many! For example, electricity access was still incredibly low across Uganda in 2012, at about 19% nationally and about 10% in rural areas.1 This has been a critical barrier to Uganda’s growth and socio-economic transformation. Major bottlenecks included high connection charges, high house wiring costs, and insufficient incentives for service to make timely and cost affordable connections. Since 2013, KPMG has been working with the Government of Uganda and independent service providers to expand access to electricity across Uganda. As an independent verification agent, KPMG acts as a trusted ally, ensuring transparency and accountability so that households receive the quality of access they require. Today, that electricity access has more than doubled up to 43% nationally and 38% in rural areas.1
We have also been working with major international development institutions to assist in the strengthening of Uganda’s health systems. Uganda has a rapidly growing population, but communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutrition-related diseases are still leading causes of premature death.2 The health system continues to be heavily reliant on development aid and out-of-pocket spending, as the government struggles to meet the population’s health needs.2 KPMG was therefore charged with the duty of public financial management in a 5-year health systems strengthening activity, identifying gaps, improving functionality and establishing accountability at both the local and national level of Uganda’s health system.
The final one I will mention is the Rwanda Priority Skills for Growth Program. This was a US$ 120 million investment from the World Bank in developing the skills and human capital required for private sector growth in Rwanda. Working towards the long-term economic transformation of Rwanda, the program upskills Rwanda’s workforce with market-relevant skills in priority areas such as Energy, Transport and Logistics, and Manufacturing (Agro-processing) with a focus on ‘Made in Rwanda’ products. As the assurance partner for this program, KPMG independently verified the effectiveness of activities to ensure that funds were being allocated to the appropriate areas and delivering tangible results towards inclusive, sustainable and productive employment for all.
What are some of the key challenges you see in your work?
In my region, I see a significant loss of resources and opportunity due to inadequate skills, poor monitoring and evaluation, and a lack of transparency and accountability. But these are also the reasons I see a huge opportunity for KPMG in our markets.
We have a unique skill set in governance and transparency that can be applied across all sectors. Moreover, our breadth of advisory expertise can assist in directing policy appropriately, so that solutions are scalable and sustainable. Our program management expertise, various sector-specific capabilities and depth of experience can make a real difference if leveraged correctly, and I’m hoping KPMG IMPACT will help us do just that.
Tell us your vision for KPMG IMPACT. What do you see for us 5 years down the track?
In 5 years, I want to see KPMG being visible everywhere as an organization that is really interested in the areas of our impact propositions, and actually shaping what is happening in each of those respective areas.
I want to be understood as the firm that understands impact – with our clients and across society as a whole.