In mid-2019, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants Rwanda (ICPAR) met a major milestone: it held the first exam of the first level for its new Certified Accounting Technician qualification. A qualification that has been accredited by the national Workforce Development Authority in the Rwandan National Qualification Framework and is now offered in all vocational and technical training institutions throughout Rwanda.
For students who passed the exam, this milestone means they have taken their first step in a journey to a life-long career. Becoming qualified and joining the accountancy profession will help these students support themselves and their families while building their communities and nation.
For aspiring accountants and future talent, this means there is another way to enter the accountancy profession and build a career—a pathway that can, for many aspiring students, be more achievable than the much more resource-intensive path to becoming a full CPA.
For ICPAR, this continues to build the national accountancy profession and expand its capacity to support Rwanda’s economic and development goals—while also increasing accountancy opportunities for the nation’s younger talent. It also positions ICPAR as key education partner for the government as it focuses on improving public sector financial management.
For the global accountancy profession, this is another example of successful partnership and collaboration: the qualification was made possible through the support of IFAC’s Capacity Building Program, with funding from the UK Department for International Development, and ICPAR’s partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
The story of the accountancy profession in Rwanda is a remarkable one. In 2008, there were only 45 accountants in the country. This tiny number of accountants had no professional accountancy organization supporting them. It was virtually a non-existent profession in a country that was barely surviving.
Fast forward to 2020 and the profession is thriving in a country with one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. ICPAR has hundreds of members and is dedicated to supporting Rwanda’s plans for economic growth and its Vision 2030. When the qualification launched last year, ICPAR’s CEO, Amin Miramago, said, “ICPAR is an ambitious institute for an ambitious country and we recognize how vitally important accounting technicians are to fueling Rwanda’s growth. Every school, hospital, business and government department needs the skills which this new qualification will provide.”
The internationally benchmarked, locally bespoke accounting technician qualification is the latest achievement under the Rwandan capacity building project, and the broader partnership between ICPAR and ACCA. As the first element of the project, developing ICPAR’s strategy, started to take shape, the need for a new accounting technician qualification became clear.
By developing a new qualification, ICPAR is now better enabled to contribute to Rwanda’s development strategy—and begin developing aspiring and future qualified accountancy professionals able to support ICPAR’s stakeholders across the public and private sectors.
The qualification also responds directly to the identified need for 5,000 additional professional accountants in Rwanda’s public sector by including public financial management components. Meaning that all graduates from the program are qualified to support the public sector—and support Rwanda’s national initiative to train the public sector as a government-identified key partner for the Public Financial Management Competency-Based Learning Development Plan.
The forthcoming influx of professional accountants strengthens Rwanda’s national and local employment market, and positions accountancy for its important contributions to the growth of the Rwandan economy. Significantly, the qualification is available online at learning centers across Rwanda, putting the accountancy profession within reach for an even broader pool of potential students who can, as my colleague George Njari at ACCA put it, “benefit from this certification [and] enhance their employment opportunities.”
I was honored to visit Rwanda and ICPAR in 2019 for this milestone achievement, along with Felicity, George and others from the ACCA During the visit, I spoke to some of the students in the program. They praised the online access and new learning materials, which helped them be better prepared for their examinations. They were also grateful that the program is creating more opportunities for diverse and long-term careers in the private or the public sector.
This project, and IFAC’s entire Capacity Building Program, reflects our commitment improving lives and the public good by developing the accountancy professional globally to support economic growth and stability. The partnership between ICPAR and ACCA is proof positive that a high-quality, sustainable future-focused, accounting technician qualification can provide a pipeline of professional accountants ready to meet the needs of its jurisdiction.
This ICPAR-ACCA partnership continues to bear fruit—and provide learnings and feedback that contribute to future projects around the world.