The Accountancy Profession in Cameroon

The accounting need of any Country is generally determined by the level of economic, social and political development of the Country. Unfortunately, this has not been so in most of the former British and French African Colonies like Cameroon. In particular, the majority of these Countries, because of their colonial heritage, personalized the British and French Legal and Accounting Systems despite the unsuitability of these for the local environment. This is in part because of the fact that most of the big businesses that existed in the colonial era were in actual fact the extensions of overseas businesses. The reporting format for such businesses thus followed strictly the reporting format of those foreign businesses. As a result, company law then emerged in colonized African Countries closely which followed the provisions of the company law of their colonial masters.

It was chiefly because of the requirements of foreign businesses that the demand for accounting in Cameroon emerged. It was therefore not a surprising that most of the pioneer accountants in Cameroon were foreigners and even Cameroonians who became accountants then were trained abroad, as scholarships were awarded to many Cameroonians to study accounting abroad.
It was in 1970 when the first version of the General Accounting Plan was drawn up for the West and Central African countries and adopted by the Conference of the Heads of State and Government of OCAM held in Yaoundé on January 28-30, 1970. It was called the OCAM Accounting Plan named after the regional economic community, the Organisation Commune Africaine et Mauricienne, Although the Anglophone regions of Cameroon only adopted it some few years after. This was apparently the overseas version of the French accounting system set by the French accounting standards committee members for West African counterparts.
It should be noted that, only the simplified system, not the whole system used in France, was transported to the region.The objectives of the plan were
     Meaning and definition of accounts to satisfy users,
    accounting standardization for general analysis, and
     Adaptation of accounting methods for data processing.
The first objective refers to the virtual necessity of accounting controls to the operation of enterprises and to the importance of books keeping. For this reason, a major reform was undertaken to elucidate the function of accounts, which was not sufficiently explained in the French accounting plan of 1957.
 UDEAC (Union Douaniere des Economie de l’Afrique Centrale) accounting plan was later on created.
In 1974 the OCAM Accounting was replaced with the OHADA accounting system after signing the OHADA treaty which Cameroon was a signatory. Prior to the adoption of the OHADA Uniform Act, companies in the Anglophone provinces of Cameroon were incorporated under Chapter 37 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos, of 1958, which was based on the British Companies Ordinance of 1922. The absence of provisions relating to accounting and auditing was a major flaw in the legislation. The legislation contained no provisions compelling  companies to keep any books of account. It was also evident that, the accounting requirement of company law was limited to limited liability companies.
By contrast, the accounting rules of the OHADA Act had a broader scope. This is because the code applies to all types of undertakings. For example, the first part of the OHADA Act presents detailed rules relating to accounting conventions, regular bookkeeping procedures, and the probative value of accounting records.
The OHADA Uniform Act attempts to blend the Anglo-American accounting system with the French uniform accounting approach by codifying key provisions of International Financial Reporting Standards, and incorporating them within its framework. But it is important to note here that many of the international accounting standards that were incorporated into the OHADA Uniform Act are outdated versions which have been substantially revised in recent years.
 The Accountants of Cameroon also saw the need to form an association where accountants could speak with one voice in their dealings and interactions with various government agencies. There was also a need for an association whereby accountants could meet, discuss common problems and have a unified body to make representations to Government. This brought in the ONECCA (The association of chartered accountants of Cameroon) which governs the accountancy profession/body in Cameroon.
The growing importance of accounting prompted the government began to encourage Cameroonians to study Accounting. This resulted in the award of several scholarships to Cameroonians to undertake Accounting studies abroad.
It was later on realized that this practice of writing British and French professional examinations were undesirable for several reasons. This included the fact that locally Cameroonians aspiring to be accountants were precluded from sitting the examination of most professional accounting bodies in UK and France. The only exception was the examination of the ACCA. As a result the accounting qualification was introduced in Cameroonian colleges and universities. On 19 to 23 April 2004, a forum for developing training programs for public accounting held in Yaoundé under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education (MINESUP). The idea of ​​creation of this industry in the state universities of Cameroon was held after the presentations of several consultants who have all been positive. This initiative has not yielded much fruits
Over the years, however, there has remained growing opportunity for accountants in Cameroon coupled with the large number of Cameroonians wishing to undertake accountancy training. These factors have attracted other professional accountancy bodies like the ACCA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), The Chartered Public Accountants of America to the Country. Given the international recognition granted to ACCA qualifications, attracting students has not been a very difficult task.70% of young Cameroonians now aspiring to become accountants prefer the ACCA route. The increasing number of Cameroonians students sitting ACCA examination is, at least in part, explained by the students’ concerns about whether the accountancy qualification from universities and other professional bodies in Cameroon to train public accountants is a valid international qualification.
Foreign accountancy qualifications has also been reinforced by the apparent superiority of the foreign accounting firms compared with indigenous firms, especially in attracting and executing large accounting jobs. Although there are several indigenous accounting firms in Cameroon, most of them are sole proprietors with little specialization.
Nfor Gabriel-ACCA
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