IMF sees sub-Saharan Africa growth near two-decade low in 2016 – by FIN24


Johannesburg – Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will likely slow this year to its weakest in nearly two decades, hurt by a slump in commodity prices, the Ebola virus outbreak and drought, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday.

In its African Economic Outlook, the fund said the region would likely grow 3% this year – the lowest rate since 1999 – after expanding by 3.4% in 2015.

Growth was seen recovering to 4% next year, helped by a slight recovery in commodity prices, and the fund said it was still optimistic about the region’s prospects in the longer term.

“However, to realise this potential, a substantial policy reset is critical in many cases,” the fund said.

Affected countries needed to contain fiscal deficits as the reduction in revenue from the commodities sector was expected to persist, it added.

Major oil exporters Angola and Nigeria were hardest hit by the slump in commodities prices, as were Ghana, South Africa and Zambia, the report said.

Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were only gradually recovering from the Ebola epidemic, while several southern and eastern African countries including Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were suffering from a severe drought, the IMF added.

On the upside, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Senegal would see growth of more than 5%, mostly “supported by ongoing infrastructure investment efforts and strong private consumption,” the report said.

“The decline in oil prices has also helped these countries, though the windfall has tended to be smaller than expected, as exposure to the decline in other commodity prices and currency depreciations have partly offset the gains in many of them,” it added.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Tech Savvy Accountants

ACCA_Tech Savvy

The 2016 WEF in Davos sees leaders from across the world gathering to discuss pertinent issue that will shape the economic structure of the world. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, referring to the advent of economy-changing technologies. Technology is changing the way business is conducted, one of the industries that has and will continue to change its methods of doing is the accountancy industry. There is a huge demand for tech-savvy accountants. Wesley Rashid explains the importance of technology for the modern accountant and how it can benefit both the profession and clients.

Why is it important for a modern accountant to be technologically aware and capable?

Love it or hate it, technology is ever changing and accountants are now expected to stay up to date with these advances in order to keep their clients happy. The ones that are capable are the ones that stay connected with their clients and adopt a proactive approach, the ones that stay retrospective – well, its time to pack up your calculator and pen.

How do you increase your technological competency?

I’m presuming most students are of the millennial generation, those who are used to using tech every day. Increase your competency by getting out there and attending meet ups, using social channels and surfing the web – there’s lots of information to digest online, even on Facebook and Twitter.

What specific doors can being tech savvy open for an accountant?

Technology makes accountancy practices as user-friendly for staff and clients as possible, reducing fixed costs in running the practice and a need for clients to see them as tech-friendly. So there are lots of opportunities for the tech-savvy accountant. Look at us – accountants for tech start ups using tech to offer real time financial analysis and support for tech start ups so they can make quick decisions and grow faster. This has a massive impact on client satisfaction.

Where and how do you see technology changing the accounting profession?

Accountants and tax professionals will become advisers and software specialists. Focus is on cloud and harnessing good data to provide clients with sound advice, and automate processes – thus giving you more time to add value to the client’s bottom line.

Is technology making accounting/accountants more innovative or the other way round?

Yes, the ability of using the right tech tools will create profitability for both the firm and the client. Drilling down to data, automating processes such as auto-population of tax and VAT returns and collaboration by use of cloud accounting packages can speed things up and leave the accountant open to spending time on what they do best.


Thriving in the Face of Technological Change


Finance professionals have always exploited emerging technologies to help them to complete their tasks more accurately, quickly or simply: from the incised clay tablets of the Sumerian scribes, through the adding machines of the 19th century, to the calculators and computers of the 20th century. All these technological developments were simple by comparison with the myriad technologies that are now rapidly reshaping the worlds of business and accountancy

Looking at the coming decade, what new technologies should finance professionals be aware of in order to excel in their roles as advisors to businesses.

Mobile technologies change the structured nature of finance, being office-based is not a requirement anymore

The recently released ACCA report titled, Digital Darwinism: Thriving in the Face of Technological Change, looks at the advent of new technologies that will change the face of business, specifically the finance function.

The following technological tools are highlighted by the report as agents of change in the way business activities will conducted; some of them are new and some we are familiar with but will evolve the way finance activities are conducted:

  • Mobile
  • Big data
  • Artificial intelligence and robotics
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud
  • Payment systems
  • Digital Service Delivery
  • Social Technologies

Taking Big Data as an example, analysis of data sets can find new correlations, to “spot business trends, combat crime and so on. Mobile technologies change the structured nature of finance, being office-based is not a requirement anymore. Confidentiality and privacy are big in finance, so the need for security cannot be emphasised enough in these technological times

Pat Semenya, Market Head of ACCA SA, gives reasons why technological advances matter, “firstly, they play a fundamental role in the creation of wealth, improve the quality of life, have an impact on economic growth, and can even transform societies. Secondly, guaranteed revenue streams are diminishing and so companies need to continuously innovate and experiment, and nothing is risk-free. Finally, technology is evolving really quickly and consumer and business strategies need to keep up.”

By anticipating these changes, finance professional can manage the change and use it to get the best out of these technological tools

Cybertheft: Are South Africans sufficiently protected by legislation?


Are South Africans sufficiently protected by legislation?

It is a little known fact that only 28 countries in the world have a cyber security policy in place. South Africa is one of them, but its policy is heavily criticised.

Prof Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg, says a single point of contact is needed for cyber security in the South African government. “The African Union convention shows South Africa is far behind as far as cyber security is concerned. Government and private sector must work together to cyber secure South Africa.”

Is it all doom and gloom?

There are those that believe that we can win. Hacktavist-turned-security-expert and Gigaom Research analyst, as well as recent TED Talk speaker, Keren Elazari, says the answer lies in decentralising the current systems.

“When it comes to the global financial ecosystem we are at a massive shift point, moving from traditional 20th century finance that is centralised to a new financial world with micro payments, digital payments, digital wallets, crypto currencies and other forms of payments.”

Ms Elazari is convinced that as this change occurs it will empower small companies and individuals to have a bigger say in their own cyber security.

Mustapha Zaouini, CEO of payments company PayU, explains that as payment ecosystems develop, the threat of attack from unsuspecting sources such as third parties will increase.

“It is going to get very complicated for the ordinary business to keep track of all the innovation to thwart cybercrime. So it is vital that basic security measure are in place and that online companies keep things as simple as possible. We have seen this among our small- to medium-sized merchants. The more aware you are of the risks, the more secure your online assets will be. Vigilance is key.”

According to Mr van Solms, small businesses are reported to be the largest growth area for cyber attacks, adding 31% of all attacks targeted small businesses, as they are less prepared to handle cyber risks. Another reason to use providers who are credible.

“Our payment systems are secure in South Africa, however, security is a culture that needs to be integrated into our daily lives. This applies to small and large companies as well as individuals and starts with password management,” says Mr Zaouini.

This year’s Security Summit highlighted that while tenacious attackers and equally dedicated IT security companies compete for the latest technological dominance, all we can do is play our part with common sense when it comes to privacy and online security.

Click here to view the ACCA report on cyber-theft.


Navigating Choppy Financial Waters – ACCA FFL Summit


The financial services sector across the globe continues to face extraordinary challenges. These include hacking and cyber-theft; sufficient and appropriate levels of regulation against a backdrop of having to offer new products and services; increasingly independent and demanding consumers; recovering from the impact of the global recession; and managing extreme currency fluctuations.
Financial institutions have to work extremely hard to stay on top of other aspects like big data, Digital Darwinism — where organisations cannot adapt fast enough to societal and technological evolution — and the drivers of global accountancy…