SOMEONE TO COUNT ON

Zambia 2014 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alvert N. Ng'andu, Executive Director & CEO of the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS), on improving the professional standards of the accountancy community.

Alvert N. Ng’andu
BIOGRAPHY
Alvert Namasamu Ng’andu holds a PhD in Dynamics from the University of Nottingham, UK, an MSc in Automobile Product Engineering from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, UK, and a B.Eng. (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Zambia. A qualified Court-Annexed Mediator with training in Arbitration, Alvert has served/is serving on various boards and committees of national significance including the Copperbelt University Council, the Examinations Council of Zambia, Rusangu University Council, the Zambia Adventist Press Board of Directors, the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Board of Directors, University of Zambia Council, Zambia Standards Council, Zambia State Insurance Pension Trust Fund Board of Trustees, Lusaka Vocational Training Centre Management Board, the Engineers’ Registration Board and the Technology Development and Advisory Unit Board. Administratively, Alvert has served as Head of Department, Assistant Dean and Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Zambia. He is currently the Executive Director & CEO of the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS).

What steps have you taken to become one of the leading business schools in Zambia?

The Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS) was set up in 1989 under an Act of Parliament under the Ministry of Finance. Initially, it was created to provide training in accountancy because Zambia did not have a training institution for accountants. There was some low-level training; however, ZCAS was the first to offer a full professional accounting qualification. Before that anyone who wanted to obtain a professional accounting qualification needed to go to the UK. That was prohibatively expensive. Therefore, a group of accountants who had qualified began to lobby for the setting up of an educational institution in Zambia that would be more or less at the same level of quality and learning experience as those in the UK. This led to the creation of ZCAS with quality benchmarked at the level of that obtaining in the UK. We have grown from providing just professional training into academic programs, degree programs, and Master's level qualifications. We offer three accounting programs: ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), ZICA (Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants), and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants). What makes ZCAS unique is that, although it was set up by state legislation and ought to be financed by the state, it has never received grant funding. ZCAS is a self-financing institution.

Is ZICA the most popular program?

Yes, countrywide there are about 15,000 students following the local qualification. At ZCAS we tend to attract more ACCA students as about 60% of the accountancy students are pursuing ACCA. The number of ZICA and CIMA students is almost equal; it fluctuates a bit from year to year. ZICA is the local accountancy qualification.

What differentiates you from other institutions in terms of education?

ZCAS wants to be considered a premium institution. It is trying to offer quality education pretty much as you would find if you went to the UK, for example. Our fees give you the idea that what you are going to get is quality. We are accredited by CIMA as a quality partner, and ZCAS is the only Gold-accredited institution with ZICA in Zambia. Further, ZCAS is one of six Platinum-approved learner partners with ACCA in Africa and the only one in Zambia. These accreditations arise from the high examination pass rates that ZCAS has achieved over the years. ZCAS students perform exceptionally well and consistently attain prize winner positions both locally and internationally.

Has the growth of the finance sector attracted more students into this field?

Indeed, that is one of the reasons for introducing a banking and finance program, to meet the demand. The program offers a number of courses and provides a certificate or a diploma. However, people who work full-time cannot attend the classes full time during the week. They want to hold onto their jobs and would rather come in the evenings. We have such an option, and we encourage people to use it.

Do you offer graduate degree programs?

Graduate programs are still a very small segment of our training, and we have only just started introducing them. We only have three graduate programs at the moment. These are an MBA, and an MA, both in international business, with the University of Greenwich, and a Master's of Science in information systems management also, in collaboration with the University of Greenwich. We do not have Master's programs in other business areas, as we are still developing those. The bulk of our students are either following our professional programs or the undergraduate programs.

Which of your programs is the largest in terms of student numbers? And which has most potential for growth?

At the moment it is accountancy, because we have three different programs. This accounts for 46% of the students. However, the number of students taking different courses is higher than the number of accountancy students. Roughly, about 54% would be non-accounting students as follows: 14% on degree programs and 40% on non-degree programs. Empirical evidence suggests that academic programs have the greatest potential for grow.