Covid-19: Accountants urge digital shift to boost recovery

25Sep 2020
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Covid-19: Accountants urge digital shift to boost recovery

EAST African countries must undertake several measures to get their economies back to life to tackle significant challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The head of ACCA Tanzania, Jenard Lazaro.

These include shift from ‘business as usual’ to creativity and adaptability as well as strong cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Experts in the field of accountancy who participated in an online conference organized by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) East Africa made these assertions in discussing the theme, ‘Covid-19: The Road to Recovery,’ fielding leading accountants from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.

Report author Jamie Lyon, head of business management and director of professional insights for ACCA said in Tanzania for instance, 51 percent of respondents cited customer purchases as undergoing drastic reduction during this period.

ACCA’s June 2020 survey findings indicate that the impact of the pandemic on the region’s economies has been profound.

The head of ACCA Tanzania, Jenard Lazaro said the speed at which the region recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic also depends on effectiveness of collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“We have examined the business and finance impacts of Covid-19 and the responses of organisations in different sectors across East Africa. We are at a stage where business models and strategies must evolve in response to the pandemic,” he said.

The conference was organized with support of national accountancy bodies across East Africa, including the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), which the report said is a valued long- term strategic partner of ACCA.

Standard Chartered (T) CEO, Sanjay Rughani said that while Covid-19 has accelerated businesses to embrace digital tools, it was now up to businesses to drive beneficial impacts through effective recovery plans.

They should also consider how business models need to evolve in the future and enhancing workforce capabilities critical to effective responses, he elaborated.

“Workforce capabilities are a critical as part of an effective response. Behavioural competencies such as adaptability, curiosity and creativity will be instrumental to the recovery of the economy,” he asserted.   

 Businesses must put in place smarter and better approaches in communication to assure stakeholders, he said, noting that this would uplift investor confidence, improve collaborative spheres and intensify the recovery.

Reflecting on Tanzania at present, he said the country’s approach to the Covid-19 pandemic was good, one that ensured that there was close collaboration between the public and private sectors.

In Tanzania the pandemic was contained evenl without the government employing lockdowns, “thanks to maintaining hygienic practices.”

He however noted that the outbreak challenged some sectors including tourism, exports, foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances.

 “With the whole world catching the cold, Tanzania, which of course is part of the global economy infrastructure, is also sneezing,” he told the participants.

Brian de Souza, a partner with KPMG East Africa and head of consulting said that for businesses to transform, every organisation needs to look at opportunities offered by the digital cloud, to shape how information is consumed and changing the way people work.

“The cloud provides a secure platform you can access from anywhere,” he said, while Dr Neema Kiure-Mssusa, member of the governing council and vice chairperson for NBAA, said that automation is an opportunity to boost efficiency.

Agility and adaptability are vital in putting economies on the right footing, she said, intoning that accountants need to enhance skills in technology and take up digital transformation in driving business forward.

“When developing a technology strategy for businesses, it is important to look ahead and anticipate the potential future needs of businesses and clients,” the researcher declared.

 Lawrence Semakula, Accountant General at the Ugandan Treasury said it was high time for governments to shift from the health emergency to social and economic recovery, noting that the full recovery of economies was going to be a gradual process.

ACCA Africa Director Jamil Ampomah underlined that key decision makers and business leaders must find a lasting solution to the economic impact of Covid-19.

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