Accountancy in Africa - Making the numbers add up

Making the numbers add up
Making the numbers add up

While many economies in Africa are expanding fast, accountants agree that the continent has to build its business reporting and administration to make sure the growth is sustainable, says Jamil Ampomah, Director for sub-Saharan Africa at the ACCA

The third Africa Congress of Accountants (ACOA), staged in Mauritius in May last year, heard that essential work is needed urgently in the area of business reporting, even as some countries remain marred by severe socio-political unrest, economic instability, poverty, famine and disease.

Growth is predicted to pick up in 2016 to reach 4.5 per cent across the region – and the widely held view was that accountants have an increasingly significant role to play in African businesses. Accounting ethics, training and development, the promotion of women, economic sustainability, infrastructure development and transparency were among the themes discussed at the congress.

The African continent has fewer than 100,000 professional accountants serving a population that already exceeds one billion. This means there is not just a need for more accounting education and training, but for the right values and ethics to be encouraged among African accounting professionals, creating a professional infrastructure that boosts an effective business culture.

The weakness of revenue collection in Africa has hamstrung the development of effective regulation and government in the past, but if effective it can provide a stable flow of revenue to finance development priorities such as strengthening physical infrastructure and good governance.

The accounting profession plays a vital role, with many being active as entrepreneurs and innovators themselves. Importantly, the governments and regulatory bodies of key economies such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have adopted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and IFRS for SMEs, the set of international standards specifically for smaller businesses. This should make it more straightforward for investors to compare and contrast the activities and performance of companies in those countries against a set of globally recognised criteria.

Credit: the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is the world’s leading body for professional accountants, with more than 110 years of experience, innovation and excellence. For more details visit www.accaglobal.com