Accounting crucial to African development


ACCA global CEO, Helen Brand recently hosted a lunch at the Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst, Johannesburg for employers, professional accounting bodies and training providers.

The topic of Brand?s address was "The changing role of the accountant in Africa?s future economic growth.'

Brand said Africa has shown dramatic growth and resilience in recent years, both economically and in terms of the accounting profession: "The continent continues to have a growing strong influence in the global economy.

Its businesses are increasingly important international trade partners and its market is increasingly attractive as an international trade proposition. Professional accountants undoubtedly have a significant role to play in capacity building in Africa, including the development of capital markets.'

BRICS countries have shown that start-ups and business expansion is possible and can happen even during a difficult economic cycle: "Those countries are quickly becoming the benchmark for us to follow.'

A study entitled: "Challenges and Opportunities for Growth and Sustainability,' undertaken by Delta Economics, and commissioned by ACCA revealed that entrepreneurs in South Africa had a growth rate of 269% and a turnover of $4.01 million: "Entrepreneurs in South Africa are only second to China in terms of business growth.

Although it is good news for Africa, as the global economic crisis continues, development is struggling to flourish and keep afloat in any industry across the world. Now, more than ever the accountancy profession is being increasingly pushed to the forefront of finding solutions, which will assist in navigating the turbulent and difficult markets many companies find themselves operating within.'

Accountants need to be fully equipped to deal with the variety of situations that may come their way: "They can no longer have just one skill set in their careers.

They have to be adaptable and ready to deal with situations that are not necessarily what they originally signed up for when they became finance professionals.'

Following discussions with a range of employers in South Africa, it was clear that although South Africa has been a democracy for almost 20 years, the country "still has some way to go in terms of education.' Limited access to education means the younger generation is not equipped with the skills needed to help the country prosper and breed economic freedom.

The ACCA qualification provides an alternative route to the traditional academic route into the accountancy profession: "When ACCA was established our aim was to be inclusive, regardless of class, gender, ethnicity or education. Our founding values in 1904 were opportunity, diversity, innovation, accountability and integrity. Applied in South Africa, it is about providing access to everyone and helping to meet the needs of the country?s skills shortages.'

African countries constitute an essential part of ACCA?s global membership; ACCA has 10 500 members and almost 83 000 students in sub-Saharan Africa; 12 members from African countries sit on ACCA?s International Assembly; and four Global Council members are from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Mauritius.

"The African continent is a hub of activity for accountancy and will continue to thrive as long as its accessibility to education and resources continues to develop. With the help of all accountancy bodies, we can work together to transform the accountancy profession into an opportunity that can afford a career path for those, who decide to take it on,' Brand concluded.

What do you think?
What role could the accountancy profession play in the development of South Africa specifically with regards to education?