Bheem Ramruttan : Improving quality of life in Africa

Africa is a rich continent in terms of minerals and natural resources and is actively involved in agriculture. Mauritius had the honour of hosting the 3rd Africa Congress of Accountants (ACOA) in 2015 and the theme of the Congress was “Rising Africa: Partnering for results”. The conference, organised by the Mauritius Institute of Professional Accountants, attracted leaders of the accounting profession across the world to discuss the issues, opportunities and challenges for Africa.

Managing Africa’s resources for the benefit of Africans

Africa needs to manage its resources for the benefit of Africans with public sector accountability. Nigeria and Angola are the main producers of oil and gas in Africa, accounting for over 85 % of production. Overall, Africa is well endowed with natural resources, but the continent has not taken responsibility to accelerate progress and prosperity. There is a question mark “Africa resources, whether are for Africa or not”. The objective for political leaders should be that Africa resources remains for African indigenous.

Moreover, skill and capital formation are found to be the most important acid to manage.Apart of Politicians, the accounting profession in Africa has an important role to play in managing the resources. Professional accountants have to act in the public interest according to the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

Transforming resources to wealth

Two main resources that create wealth in Africa — agriculture and mining. Abundance of natural resources by itself cannot transform an economy. Technology and knowledge are also needed to take an economy to great heights. China is an obvious example. The BCC News recently announced at a global level that China has successfully undertaken the journey from resources to wealth. Access to technology and education should be the priority of rulers of the continent. Africa should keep its best brains and trained people to ensure the next step of its development and hence alleviating poverty.

Public Sector Governance and reporting

Effective public sector governance contributes to improved decision-making and the efficient of resources. There is a need to set up a discussion around financial standards like IFRS and IPSAS to challenge the process. Promoting SMEs should be on the agenda. A country does not need to be big in size to voice out its concerns, where there is only one chance to make an impression and brainstorm the solution that answers all concerns.

Africa needs creative leaders and must forge a strong partnership between private and public sectors. In addition, accountants must provide useful insights on what could happen in the future with certain systems and processes in place, rather than simply comment in hindsight on what has happened in the economy. For such in-depth analysis, information must be made available, and the role of the government is to achieve the requisite outcome, address issues and amend regulations by the necessary interventions. Africa must demonstrate its commitment to change. As the world becomes a global village, there is the added comfort that results in one area are easily comparable with other areas.

The Way Forward

Public finance management, regional cooperation, mutual recognition agreements among professional associations, the future of corporate reporting and corruption in Africa are key issues to address to transform Africa. The success of a country depends on the strength of its institutions. An emerging continent must rise to challenges such as the right leadership to convert economic growth into sustainable development for the future, and must comprehend the importance of public sector and private sector cooperation.

The Africa Perspective

Mauritius is fortunate to position itself well on the continent, in particular as a platform to help the services sector moreso in the accounting profession, as the continent has a scarcity of qualified accountants to manage its resources, such as the public sector.

Bheem Ramruttan

Partner, Multiedge Consultancy Services

Capital Media

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