On 17th October 2023, in the bustling city of Johannesburg, a significant event took place that could shape the future of business practices in Africa. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, represented by two of its most prominent bodies, AICPA & CIMA, made a compelling case for the need to elevate the skills and knowledge of accountants, finance, and business professionals across the continent. This call to action was not just a mere statement but a reflection of the discussions and insights gained from the recent ESG Africa Conference held in the city.
The ESG Africa Conference, a pivotal event that drew attention to sustainability ESG, was not just another event in the business calendar. It was a convergence of minds, ideas, and visions. With participation from international delegates, it provided a unique opportunity for industry leaders, specialists, and newcomers to come together. Their collective aim? To understand, discuss, and find solutions for the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices within businesses, both large and small.
Representing AICPA & CIMA at this pivotal event was Tariro Mutizwa, ACMA, CGMA, Regional Vice President – Africa. Mutizwa, with her vast experience and deep understanding of the African business landscape, stressed the urgency and importance of having a workforce that is not only aware of ESG but is also proficient in its nuances and intricacies.
In her address, Mutizwa commented, “Africa, with its vast resources and immense potential, stands at a crossroads. To realize its economic aspirations and to ensure sustainable growth, the continent must draw in both local and international investors. Embracing and integrating ESG practices is a significant step in that direction. However, this transition is not without its challenges. It demands a meticulous approach, strategic planning, and most importantly, a cadre of accounting and finance experts who are equipped with the right skills to instill best practices, foster trust, and drive change.”
She further added, “Platforms like the ESG Africa Conference play a pivotal role in this journey. They not only highlight the significance of ESG but also serve as a beacon, illuminating the path forward, emphasizing the imperative for increased education, awareness, and proactive measures in this domain.”
AICPA & CIMA, with its global recognition and reputation as the world’s foremost professional accounting body, understands its responsibility in this arena. The organization is not just a passive observer but an active participant in the drive towards sustainable business practices. They are committed to nurturing, training, and expanding the talent pool, ensuring that professionals are not only aware of the changing business landscape but are also equipped to navigate its challenges and capitalize on its opportunities.
To further this cause and to ensure that the momentum gained from the conference does not wane, AICPA & CIMA have introduced a comprehensive suite of resources for professionals in Africa:
- Accounting for Climate Resilience: This is not just a document but a guide, a part of a series of interactive briefs that delve deep into the intricacies of sustainability in business, providing insights, case studies, and actionable strategies.
- Fundamentals of ESG Certificate: More than just a certificate, it’s a journey. Designed to introduce professionals to the world of sustainability reporting and assurance, it provides them with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to make a difference.
- Transformative Skills Pack – Sustainable Mindset (ESG): A complimentary resource for AICPA and CIMA members, it serves as a primer, initiating professionals into the world of ESG, providing them with a foundation upon which they can build their expertise.
- ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy Course: A collaborative effort with the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, this course is not just about imparting knowledge but about shaping leaders. It equips professionals to address sustainability challenges head-on and to incorporate them into organizational decision-making, strategy formulation, and resource allocation.
- Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential: In partnership with the International Financial Reporting Standards, this program is a testament to AICPA & CIMA’s commitment to excellence. It provides an elite educational experience, enabling professionals to comprehend the connection between sustainability data, financial reporting, and value generation.
In conclusion, as Africa stands on the cusp of a new era, the role of ESG in shaping its future cannot be understated. With organizations like AICPA & CIMA leading the charge, the future looks promising, sustainable, and green.