The absorption of professional accountants into the economy demonstrates a two-fold challenge one being a shortage of the skill and the other being a reliance on foreign skills.
Speaking at Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants graduation ceremony on Friday, Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Wilfred Mandlebe said BICA has 1 180 registered professional accountants with 478 being locals while 702 are foreigners. “This is a clear indication that Botswana economy relies to a large extent on the importation of professional accountants. The role of accountants in Botswana’s growing economy and indeed of the world over has changed. Accountants are no longer merely bean counters or number crunchers, their role has become more sophisticated. Today’s accountants are expected to provide strategic guidance while looking after an entity’s financial wellbeing,” he said.
Mandlebe said despite government’s commitment to invest in creating necessary skills in the economy, gaps still exist in various disciplines including accountancy. He said the economy requires more professional accountants than the institutions can currently provide. He called on the private sector to help government in sponsoring students enrolled in the BICA qualification. He said since the birth of BICA accreditation in 2011, government has been carrying the bulk of the weight by being the main sponsor. He lamented that due to the scarcity of professional accountants – upon their graduation, competition becomes rife among employers to land the newly graduated.
Mandlebe called on employers to sponsor their employees to enroll for BICA qualification to increase the number of local accountants in the country. He further urged the private sector and other employers to foster the competitive edge for the qualification through Technical Work Experience (TWE) by way of validating Approved Training Employer (ATE). He said ATE will also assist BICA to close the gap that exists between qualification and industry needs.
“With the challenges presented by the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), Public Private Partnership agreement (PPP) mergers ,acquisitions and privatisation, there is need for the newly qualified chartered accountants to lead from the front and ensure that there is return on investment of all players in the economy,” said Mandlebe.