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Africa's accounting industry benefits from integration and regulation

by , 17 January 2013
Africa's accounting industry benefits from integration and regulationAfrica's strong growth prospects are making headlines, but that doesn't mean it's plain sailing. SAIPA reports that a strong accountancy profession is necessary for Africa to realise its economic potential. This means we need sufficient numbers of competent and ethical accountancy professionals to help African businesses meet the global reporting standards demanded by investors.

'Two of the key initiatives to build the strong and ethical profession Africa needs are better regulation of the accountancy sector, and the whole move towards integrated reporting,' argues Shahied Daniels, CEO of SAIPA. Daniels' observations are based on discussions during the recent IFAC annual council meeting in Cape Town, which was co-hosted by SAIPA.

Why should accountancy we regulated in Africa?

Daniels says accounting regulation will make the accountancy profession stronger because it provides business with an element of assurance that these vital professionals meet certain minimum standards, and have signed onto a code of ethics that can be enforced. IFAC has identified three types of regulation: external via an Act of Parliament, internal via a professional body, and self-regulation with public oversight and accountability. Daniels says SAIPA favours the third option as it gives adequate safeguards and transparency without the need for a legislative framework that tends to breed a tick-box mentality.

There would be 2 big benefits from regulating African accountancy

  1.  '[It] opens up the way for a framework that is rigorous but that also recognises the fact that the industry will have to participate in an ongoing process — it's not a question of drawing a line in the sand, but rather of ensuring it remains abreast of developments in the fast-moving global business environment,' Daniels explains.

  1. Integrated reporting is the second foundation stone. Based on a presentation to the meeting by Mervyn King, SC, Daniels says integrated reporting has become a requirement of global investors. It is also necessary to ensure a business is sustainable over the long term.

Integrated thinking and better regulation will lead to sustainable economic growth

'Accountants and auditors at all levels need to be thinking in an integrated way if they are to guide African businesses to long-term success,' Daniels concludes. 'This type of thinking combined with better regulation will help develop sustainable economic growth, create jobs and so alleviate poverty. We must all work towards the goal of building a stronger accountancy profession for Africa's future prosperity.'

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  • Press release from Anita van den Berg of PR Republic

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