Only 1 223 registered Accounting Professionals
Botswana is still grappling with a persistent acute shortage of Chartered Accountants.
According to Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA)’s Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Oupa Gaofise, of the 3 136 registered members, only 1 223 are accounting professionals while 1 913 are Accounting Technicians.
Speaking at a breakfast session at Adansonia Hotel in Francistown on Tuesday, Gaofise said even more worrying is that the country still relies heavily on expatriates for accounting services.
“We still import accountants and this can’t be good,” said Gaofise.
He said they are worried as BICA hence they are the ones directly involved with the issuance of residence and work permits of expatriate Chartered Accountants.
“Immigration officials consult us and we clear these individuals to be given work permits,” he said.
Gaofise said BICA have come up with initiatives to lure locals into the profession.
He said their efforts face challenges due to qualified professionals who leave the country for greener pastures abroad.
“The BICA Qualification is one such initiative in which we encourage more professionals to study for this qualification and register with us,” Gaofise said.
BICA introduced its own professional accountancy qualification following the passing of the Accountancy Act in 2010.
This, according to Gaofise, was after the realisation that the economy needed a strong accountancy profession.
“BICA entered into a twinning arrangement with one of the world’s leading professional bodies, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), to facilitate the development of the BICA qualification,” he said.
He said the arrangement signed in 2015 enables dual membership on both bodies and therefore international recognition and portability to the qualification.
He further said registering with BICA is important as it enables them to protect the public interest by ensuring that highest standards are observed.
Gaofise said there is a standard requirement for all qualified Accountants in Botswana.
“The 2010 Accounts Act stipulates that certified auditors and member firms have to register with BICA.”
“This done in the interest of public protection as it is much easier to deal with people who are properly regulated,” he said.
The Act further cautions that a person who fails to comply with the registration requirements commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P500 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.
BICA is currently on a spirited campaign to sell their mission to members of the public.
They held breakfast sessions in Palapye, Francistown, Maun and Gantsi in an effort to dramatise their mandate.
Shortage of accountants in Botswana has been a challenge for a very long time. In 2015, the registered number of Accountants with BICA stood at 1 914 out of which 867 were accounting technicians with the remaining 1 047 being professional accountants.
In 2016 BICA had 1 180 registered professional accountants with 478 being locals while 702 were foreigners.
One of the reasons advanced for this disparity is the heavy reliance on government to sponsor of the BICA Qualification.
In 2009 while addressing Association for Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) in Gaborone, the then President of Botswana Festus Mogae underscored the severity of the shortage.
The president revealed then that the market was in need of 3000 accountants and the profession was only able to provide 1 075.
Mogae at the time said from the available 1 075 only one third were citizens, while the remaining two thirds were expatriates from countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.