vice president of the Gambia Institute of Chartered Accountants has revealed
that accountancy bodies of West Africa have jointly developed an examination
scheme capable of competing with international schemes like the AAT and CAT in
terms of quality, cost and relevance.
Speaking to journalists recently, Mr Baboucarr Khan said most importantly, the Association of Accounting Technicians West Africa exams scheme will be “a professional accountancy scheme that is developed by West Africans for West Africans to serve the economic development needs of West Africa”.
Mr Khan said the intent is to introduce an accredited and recognised standard scheme for accountants, to address the shortage of accountants that The Gambia is beginning to see, help students to be certificated and graduate as professional accountants.
“Our experience is that because of the availability of other courses that are relatively cheaper, most of the potential students are beginning to opt for those ones. With the scheme, we can compete on price, on quality, on local content, and based on laws and taxes relevant to The Gambia, which we believe can serve as major attractions to the public sector, as well as private sector as main engine of economic growth,” Mr Khan said.
Accountants drive economic development
Khan explained that a 2012 survey indicated up to 2,000 students were potentially into studying for the examination and that number would have grown by now.
“If you look at the fundamental principle of governance, be it executive or corporate levels, it requires three elements – transparency, accountability and probity. All of these require a very crucial role of accountants, and it is important to begin building the pipeline from technician levels that can grow into professional accountants as we have seen in sister countries like Nigeria and Ghana,” he said.
Solomon Adeleke, member of council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and current chair of the examination body of Accountant Technicians West African Scheme (AATWAS) said the harmonisation and implementation of the scheme is being done under the aegis of the accountancy bodies of Anglophone West Africa, including Cameroon.
The intent is to be able to develop middle level manpower for accountancy functions in government departments, local and regional governments. They also seek to help develop the level of accounting officers in offices of chartered accountants that provide public accounting services like audit of companies and assist with accounting works of many organisations.
Adeleke said it was because of the difficulties in training accountants in the sub-region, which was an offshoot of the common colonial legacy these countries had, that majority of earlier accountants had to travel abroad to England or elsewhere to undergo professional trainings.
“Due to advent of national institutions, we now begin training our own accountants. AATWAS have produced a very fast way of accountancy trainings in West Africa. Empirical evidence has even shown that they (our students) perform better than those who go through the university,” he argued.
He said the number of accountants that a country has, has a direct bearing on the pace of development of that country, due to the vital importance of the work of chartered accountants in the development of any country.
He said: “We are the ones who give advice about the use of resources, how organisations or countries can generate more businesses… We do this by the financial information we give to managers to run their various organisations. We serve governments through the revenue offices such as taxations.”