UKZN Accounting Degree Becomes the First to be Recognised by SAIGA

UKZN Accounting-Degree Recognised-by SAIGA
Highlights of the third Annual Conference of the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors.

UKZN became the first South African university to be awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA) for an academically sound Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree.

The award was made at SAIGA’s Third Annual Conference in September.

This recognition is strategically significant as it means that UKZN Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting graduates are eligible for membership of SAIGA and that their qualification is a direct feeder to the Registered Government Auditor (RGA) designation – the highest professional designation within public sector finance and auditing; and a professional qualification offered at a postgraduate level at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 8 and accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority. It acknowledges the University’s on-going contribution in terms of the RGA designation.

Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF), Professor Mabutho Sibanda said: ‘This recognition will enable the SAEF to establish strong links with industry which will promote graduate employability. It will also contribute to the achievement of our strategic goal of high-impact societal and stakeholder community engagement.’ It opens up opportunities for UKZN to become a recognised provider of SAIGA Continuous Professional Development programmes; collaboration in providing industry training sessions to third-year students at no cost to the University such as Generally Recognised Accounting Practice and Modified Cash Standard updates training; the introduction of SAIGA student ambassadors and student chapters at UKZN and collaboration to facilitate guest lectures.

The SAIGA conference provided a platform for Accounting and Auditing professionals to engage on various topics that are impacting the industry and the public sector under the theme: Advancing Auditing and Accountability for the Citizens and the Future.

In keeping with the theme, Sibanda delivered a paper titled: Has the “AI Summer” Arrived in the Auditing Profession? Taking Stock of Potential Opportunities and Threats. The paper was co-authored with SAEF academics Dr Helper Zhou and Professor Bomi Nomlala.

Sibanda said: ‘The auditing profession has traditionally been characterised by labour-intensive manual verification processes. However, spurred by the digital era’s massive data generation capabilities and escalating unethical behaviour, it finds itself at an intersection of unprecedented opportunities and challenges.’ He noted that, while auditors’ take-up of technological advances has been slow due to lack of technical skills and the fear of job losses, he remains optimistic as leading players in the sector are starting to experiment with various AI-driven tools to improve audit processes.

He commended initiatives such as Deloitte’s substantial investment in the AI-based auditing platform known as Deloitte Omnia and Ernst & Young’s first of its kind Tokyo operation for leveraging machine learning to develop an innovative tool named EY Helix GL Anomaly Detector which detects anomalous entries in large databases.

Sibanda cautioned auditors that while great strides have been made in the auditing field the risks associated with AI technologies such as ChatGPT and others call for a measured, responsible approach in order to minimise compromised audit outcomes. These challenges could be mitigated through advanced techniques like Optical Character Recognition that converts scanned documents into readable texts.

The highlights of the Conference, which was attended by around 200 delegates, included a keynote address by the Acting Public Protector Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka at the gala dinner, which coincided with SAIGA’s 35-year anniversary celebrations. Gcaleka discussed how auditing and accounting can and should promote the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration.

Other high-profile speakers included industry experts, thought leaders, political commentators and leading academics, including Ms Gail Makenete, Auditor-General of Lesotho; Mr Timothy Matsebula, Auditor-General of eSwatini; the Honourable Minister of Justice and Correctional Services in South Africa, Mr Ronald Lamola and the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, Mr Imre Nagy.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Supplied

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