Technological advances are progressing at an exponential pace in Africa and transforming traditional audit practices.
However, while digital transformation heralds a new era of innovation, especially in improving the quality of risk assessment, a critical element of all financial statement audits, significant challenges remain.
This was the consensus of business leaders during a recent pan-Africa online event organised by global professional accountancy body ICEAW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).
The online event was held on 30 March 2021 and provided insight from a panel of business leaders who shared knowledge and views on the future of the accountancy profession in a world where digital technologies are transforming business models, industry sectors and the workplace.
Discussions focused on how disruptive technologies are evolving in the accounting profession, the ethical implications, and the strategies required for managing the risks associated with the emerging applications of technology. Panellists included: David Matthews, President, ICAEW; Chemutai Murgor, CFO & Finance Director, East Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Kenya; Catherine Musakali, Founder of Dorion Associates & Corporate Governance Consultant, Kenya; Walter Muwandi, CEO, CCG Systems, South Africa; Dr Reynolds T Muza, Senior Partner, Harare Ralph Bomment Greenacre & Reynolds; Ede Dafinone, Deputy Managing Partner, Crowe Dafinone and ICAEW Council Member for Africa
According to the panellists, the automation of audit processes, such as data analysis, will lead to greater consistency and give more opportunities to identify business risks. This will allow better planning of audit activities, especially during the current global crisis.
The panellists applauded government efforts to support the development of innovation and technology by providing the required digital infrastructure. However, while many African nations are embracing digital transformation, the panellists agreed that the adoption of disruptive technology has had a major impact on the workforce across the continent, and that care should be taken to not make many jobs redundant.
While traditional accounting has ancient roots, the tools and techniques used by the profession have always evolved. According to the speakers at the online event, accountants must be able to adapt and upskill to manage these technological changes, such as the need for increased knowledge of data analytics and cybersecurity, to remain competitive.
Ethics and professional judgement must also play a critical role in the digital age to ensure accountants continue to build public trust in business and uphold the reputation of the profession. Panellists agreed there is an opportunity for codes of ethics to be broadened to recognise the role of the accountancy profession in championing ethical principles when developing and applying technology.
The speakers also highlighted how the rapid growth in technology has automated many compliance elements of accountancy but increased complexity and risk. Such elements involve ensuring that a company’s financial matters are being handled in accordance with federal laws and regulations. They called for the creation and promotion of standards for how technological tools should be developed and implemented to reduce risk and make sure that benefits, such as reducing the effort needed and increasing productivity, are achieved. They also advised that audit teams need to be properly equipped with experts on different software applications and platform technologies to be able to inform clients on the strengths of their security.
David Matthews, ICAEW President, said: “Technology is transforming the accountancy profession. Automation technologies, in particular, will change the role of chartered accountants. As technology’s influence in the working world spreads, accountants will have to diversify their skills, and an increased focus on advisory skills will mean that accountants will often find themselves acting as the broker between technical experts and clients.”
Michael Armstrong, FCA and ICAEW Regional Director for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), said: “In the coming decades, intelligent systems will take over more and more decision-making tasks from humans. While accountants have been using technology for many years to improve productivity and deliver more value to businesses, this is an opportunity to reimagine and radically improve the quality of business and investment decisions.
“To realise this potential, our profession needs to imagine how new technologies can transform our approach to the fundamental business problems we aim to solve. Accountants that stay on top of technology trends, and can adapt to integrate changes, will be best positioned to leverage them for future growth.”
Ede Dafinone, Deputy Managing Partner, Crowe Dafinone, said: “The rate at which technological advancement is accelerating across industries in Africa is astonishing. And the implementation of such technologies presents a unique opportunity for economic development in the continent.
“Accountants have embraced waves of automation over many years to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. However, technology has not been able to replace the need for expert knowledge and decision-making. Therefore, we must recognise the strengths and limits of this different form of intelligence, and build an understanding of the best ways for humans and computers to work together.”
The panellists advised audit firms in Africa to invest in digital initiatives, such as AI, blockchain, cybersecurity and developments in data capabilities. Investment in these initiatives will equip accounting professionals with the capability to expand their assurance services to deal with the new technology-driven risks that their clients face and safeguard their digital assets.
The webinar was attended by over 250 professional accountants, ICAEW students and members, as well as members of other professional bodies across Africa including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana (ICAG), the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), and the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA).
Beta Computers Gets ISO 9001:2015 Certification
One of the Nigerian leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), in the Nigerian Information Communication Technology, ICT, market, Beta Computers Limited has been awarded the coveted ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Speaking on the new landmark achievement, the managing director of the Nigerian IT solutons company, Mr Will Anyaegbunam, disclosed that the internationally recognized quality management standard was awarded to BETA on attaining the PECB Management System Certificate, signifying that the company has been assessed and found to be in accordance with the management system requirements of ISO 9001:2015.
“This certification is a confirmation of our unwavering commitment to consistently provide high quality services and products that completely meet our customers’ requirements with its scope covering our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions consulting, assembling of our own SPEEDSTAR brand of computers and deployment of Information Technology infrastructure including hardware, software and networks”.
“It is indeed a significant milestone for BETA that is going to spur us to greater heights in our drive for consistent all round customer satisfaction in the coming months and years”, Anyaegbunam explained.
Anyaegbunam, who was a former president of the information technology association of Nigerian, ITAN and a member of the board of Trustees of the Certified Computer Manufacturers Organization of Nigeria (CCMON) , said that “BETA’s success during the very rigorous certification process is a testimony to the positive attitude and commitment of our staff at all levels to embrace the requirements of the standard as a “way of life” through the maintenance of internationally recognized quality standards that ensure sustainable superior service delivery to our customers”
He added that, “We acknowledge and thank all our customers and business partners for their continued custom and support all these past 32 years and assure them that, by the special grace of God, we shall remain committed to superior Continuing Support, Quality and Excellence (CSQE) in our service delivery.”
Despite the fast and frequent changes of the IT industry, Beta Computer’s MD was very optimistic that the company’s best years are still very much ahead of them.
Diversification, Ethical Leadership Panace to Nigeria’s Economic Crisis – Danbatta
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has underscored the centrality of economic diversification and ethical leadership at all levels of government as panacea to the current economic headwinds in Nigeria.
Danbatta stated this when he delivered a paper titled: “Ethical Leadership as an Instrument for National Sustainability in the Post-Oil Nigerian Economy. A Public Sector Perspective” at a two-day hybrid (online and onsite) Annual Directors Conference (ADC) organized by the Institute of Directors (IoD), Nigeria earlier this week, where he also emphasised that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) or digital age promises greater revenue-earning potential to the nation.
Danbatta, who went on a memory lane to discuss Nigeria’s economic shift to oil revenue following discovery of oil in the 1970s, leading to the relegation of agriculture, which was hitherto the source of Nigeria’s foreign exchanges earnings, said the Federal Government has realised that Nigeria cannot be solely dependent on oil earnings anymore, hence the decision of the FG to explore ways of diversifying the economy.
Economic diversification, according to Danbatta, is the process of shifting an economy away from a single income source toward multiple sources from a growing range of sectors and markets. He said this is with a view to increasing productivity, creating jobs and providing the basis for sustained economic growth.
The EVC said though, the Federal Government has made several attempts at economic diversification such attempts have had little impact as majority of them have folded up, whilst others are finding it difficult to survive, just as he noted that the situation has further been compounded by the recent economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely affected the global economy, including Nigeria.
Danbatta stated that countries and societies have evolved by finding new ways of doing things to ensure economic sustainability, which has led to the first, second and third industrial revolutions.
“Currently, countries are exploiting the 4IR in order to diversify their economies. The fourth industrial revolution, which has also been referred to as 4IR or Industry 4.0, describes the age of intelligence and encompasses technologies like high-speed mobile Internet, Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, the use of big data analytics and cloud computing,” he said.
While highlighting the major constraints facing Nigeria with regard to the fourth industrial revolution to include inadequacy of digital skills, infrastructure deficit and enabling environment, Danbatta, emphasised that the 4IR is the information and digital economy age, which, if properly enhanced and exploited, can unleash a new phase of massive revenue generation and wealth creation for Nigeria in the post-oil era.
“This is because while natural resources such as oil, gas, and so on, are finite, data and information are infinite. Furthermore, the possibilities provided by the 4IR are limitless and can generate employment for Nigeria’s teeming youth population Therefore, in order to achieve economic growth using the 4IR there is the need for ethical leadership,” he said.
Zeroing on the centrality of ethical leadership in the public sector, Danbatta said in order to achieve national sustainability in the post-oil Nigerian economy, the highest standard of ethical leadership is required of all leaders especially in the public sector.
“Ethical leadership is essential for sustainable development of a Country. Nurturing an ethical leadership culture is essential and this will determine the transformation and overall development of the Country. Nigeria stands at the threshold of history and would definitely need ethical leaders to ensure sustainability in the post-oil era as government takes positive steps to diversify the economy,” he added.
The IoD Nigeria Annual Directors’ Conference is the Institute’s flagship event, which is attended by captains of industry and directors in both private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy. It is a forum where contemporary issues affecting leadership and corporate governance of Nigeria’s businesses are x-rayed and global best practice solutions provided by professionals and practitioners in corporate administrations.
FSB Develops Cyber Response Toolkit For Banks, Regulators
The Financial Stability Board is urging banks and regulators to use a newly-launched toolkit to help contain the damage inflicted by a major cyber incident.
The global standards setting body believes a significant cyber attack could seriously disrupt the financial system, including critical financial infrastructure, leading to broader financial stability implications.
The toolkit includes 49 practices for effective cyber incident response and recovery across seven components: (i) governance, (ii) planning and preparation, (iii) analysis, (iv) mitigation, (v) restoration and recovery, (vi) coordination and communication, and (vii) improvement.
The final toolkit draws on the feedback from a public consultation process, including four virtual outreach meetings with national authorities worldwide. The report was delivered to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors for their October meeting.
Financial1 month ago
Nigerian Telcos To Discontinue Banks’ Use of USSD Over N42 Billion Debt
Action3 weeks ago
Nigerian Court Extends NIN Registration by Two Months
Product News3 months ago
Western Digital Unveils Portable SSDs Across Portfolio
Africa Region3 months ago
MTN’s Ayoba Reassures Users on Privacy, Security of Messaging App