ACCA SA hosts its fifth Annual General Meeting

The ACCA SA recently hosted its AGM at the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank. The AGM allowed the local office to share achievements of the previous year and information regarding the progress ACCA is making in delivering value and attaining its strategic vision.

According to Karen Smal, Acting Head of ACCA SA, the past year has been a noteworthy one on a number of fronts for ACCA South Africa. ACCA has continued heartily to pursue its strategy to be the leading global professional accountancy body in reputation, influence and size, in what remain complex market conditions. Throughout the course of the year ACCA continued to serve as a thought leader and commentator for professional accountants and the business community.

During the past financial year, ACCA South Africa hosted the President of ACCA, Martin Turner. The overarching theme of the President’s visit was to strengthen the role South Africa plays within ACCA’s global strategy. ACCA also co-hosted the SME budget brief with Nexia SAB&T, one of ACCA’s platinum employers and co-hosted a roundtable with CFO SA on Financial Leadership. In April, South Africa hosted the first CXO African Convention. The CXO African Convention boasted seven of the top ten African economies, bringing together outstanding leaders from across the continent to debate opportunities, challenges and pivotal issues that matter for Africa’s future. The convention provided experts with a platform to deliberate on a range of themes from opportunities of Africa as the emerging digital continent, to the possibilities presented from access to the world’s youngest talent pool.

ACCA has achieved some significant outcomes and has continued to develop its global network. It has made a number of important inroads by collaborating with well-established entities in both the private and public sector.  

During the reviewed year, ACCA has admitted several new members and conducted member workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  It also obtained volunteers to participate in two initiatives for 2014/2015. These initiatives, namely the Technical Committee and the Mentorship programme, will ensure a more engaged member base.

ACCA visited 17 Higher Education Institutions and implemented further marketing communication campaigns to strategically position ACCA’s value in the market. In addition, universities in the Eastern Cape and North West province have implemented ACCA aligned post grad qualifications. In 2013, ACCA sponsored the ABASA Student Chapter Debates for the Johannesburg student chapter. The relationship with ABASA is critical in building brand recognition at universities.

 “ACCA’s investments in new markets and sectors will drive sustainable growth and deliver value” – Karen Smal, Acting Head of ACCA South Africa

The annual general meeting also highlighted future events to be hosted by ACCA. Upcoming events include:

  • The Tax Indaba Conference: 9-13 June
  • Independent Review Engagements: 14 July / 22 July
  • Sustainability Reporting and GRI guideline: 14 August
  • Legislative update: 23 September / 29 September / 30 September                

ACCA has remained committed to contributing to value and play a strategic role in the development of the accountancy and finance profession.

Part 2: Digitalisation: The Vehicle of Transformation – CXO African Convention

Dubbed by a renowned media publication in the late 90s as the “Hopeless Continent”, Africa has managed to transition and surpass its dark shadow of doom and gloom. At ACCA’s recently held CXO African Convention echoed positive statements from experts regarding Africa’s evolution into realm of digitalisation. At the convention, top level economists deliberated on a range of themes from opportunities of Africa as the emerging digital continent, to the possibilities presented from access to the world’s youngest talent pool.

According to Professor Oliver Saasa, Managing Consultant and CEO of Premier Consult Ltd, there’s a new wave of optimism sweeping the continent. Africa’s overall Gross Domestic Product has indicated a steadily increase from 5.5% between 2005 and 2008. In 2009, the GDP increased by an additional 2.4%, continuing to a 4.7% upturn in 2010 and reaching 5.2% in 2014. If you look deep into the African continent you will see that Africa is greatly sustained by its agricultural activities, at 12.7% GDP in 2009, which continue to generate a 6% increase paralleled to the global rate of only 3.2%. Evidently, Africa is indeed blossoming.

The world of digitalisation has marked the onset of the new world order, where technology is incorporated into trades and merged with strong marketing strategies. Although the continent is growing economically at a rapid pace, Africa still needs to adopt an adaptive trait in order to remain relevant and secure growth transformation.

“In a digital world, innovative technology offers ample prospects. However, digitalisation is not primarily about technology” states Theo Bensch, Managing Executive, Telkom Cybernest. Digitalisation not only enhances business output and operational efficiency but it also improves consumer engagement, education and health. It can be seen as a transformational tool which spreads beyond daily life and business relations.

 “The landscape of the digital age is increasingly being driven by innovations. It is important to understand and appreciate the factors that are ushering in such changes and how these are impacting the modern day business” – Karen Smal, Acting Head, ACCA South Africa

The CXO African Convention which boasted seven of the top ten African economies provided great sight and an unparalleled access to hear transformational growth strategies adopted by best-in-class businesses.

Part 1 -Unlocking the key to accessing African markets – CXO Africa Convention 2014

Panellists discussing African Investment at the CXO African Conference 2014

Panellists discussing African Investment at the CXO African Convention 2014

As a #CFO, can you spearhead African investment, without high risk? Then, once you have minimised the risk how do you unlock success with substantial returns?

At the recently held ACCA CXO African Convention, top level industry representatives were given an opportunity to discuss the burning issue of risk vs value when investing in Africa.

Traditionally, South Africa has been the destination of choice for foreign investment. South Africa has had relative lower risk factors than many other African countries. However with the rising cost of doing business in South Africa coupled with the lower than desired financial returns, many CFO’s are re-looking the financial viability of moving into Africa without first investing in South Africa.

Countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria are seen as potential investment hubs and now more than ever, the risk vs return is becoming attractive to foreign investors. Foreign investors, many from Europe, Americas and Asia are looking for new frontiers, fresh markets and affordable labour. This perfect mix outweighs the risk generally associated with doing business in Africa. In the 90’s a well-known South African financial magazine published a cover titled “Africa, the hopeless continent”. This was followed with the same magazine publishing a cover story in 2011 titled “African rising”. So what has changed?

According to Nenad Pacek, President of Global Success Advisors, “Global companies have started to take note of the favourable economic growth figures coming out of Africa. Countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Zambia are all recording 5%-8% growth figures”. So the figures make sense, but how do we enter these markets with relatively low financial risk?

The focus should be on evaluating the market, risk assessment, economic and social research and importantly the cost of exporting. Many potential investors fail to look at the “smaller” costs of doing business in Africa such as domestic travel, telecoms and access to daily amenities.

“ It is essential for CFO’s to do ground level or onsite research on the cost implications of doing business in Africa, this will help companies lower risk and forecast achievable returns”, Karen Smal, Acting heading, ACCA South Africa.

Nenad Pacek further advises that local representation is essential and that African investment requires full time ground level support. Setting up local offices, supported by a local team will help investors ensure that their product is suitable for the market. Many past failures are attributed to global companies investing in territories that they have very little knowledge of. Specifically to Africa, territorial make-ups differ vastly, and what works in Uganda may not work in neighbouring Tanzania. The product offering may need to be changed or repackaged accordingly. So in brief investing in Africa with minimal risk and maximum returns is to understand the vast differences within each territory and the cost implications of doing business in the respective territory. Essentially Ground level research holds the key to greater returns.

Sub Saharan Africa contributes only 1.5% to global business, the potential for market growth in this region and in Africa as a whole is unprecedented. According to Jo Pohl, CFO Standard Chartered Africa, 2.7 trillion dollars’ worth of revenue sits untapped in Africa.