Banana Accounting has recently been selected as the software to be used for the training of accounting technicians in all professional schools of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). The nation has thus placed itself at the forefront, worldwide, for the teaching of accounting and will reform current teaching practice as well as the approach to it. It will become the first nation in the world that is systematically introducing the use of software for training, is adapting study programs and will implement the use of software for exercises and exams, where and when the tools are available. The bigger scope of this reform is to improve training so as to enable future accountants to use modern technologies and become the architects of this digital transition.
- Numérisation de l'Enseignement de Comptabilité en République Démocratique du Congo. Project presentation (11:46 min)
- TV report on the introduction of Banana Accounting in vocational schools in Congo (1:38 min).
- Video interview, by Mr. Nicholas Nyange (2:37 min), chief inspector of Haut Catanga, where he decribes the basic elements of the project.
Below we will describe how the authorities have set up the project, what difficulties they encountered and how they tackled and overcame them.
Introduction of the OHADA accounting system
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a very large central African nation with a population of more than 85 million. In 2012, the country adhered to OHADA, the African organization for the harmonization of commercial law. The DR of Congo subsequently adopted the legislation of that community. Thus the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education of the DRC, which oversees the training of accounting technicians throughout the national territory, has found itself to reform the training, by implementing the new rules and company reporting recommendations of the OHADA . This project involves more than half a million students and over 10,000 teachers, that are present in 4,000 classes across the 27 provinces of the country.
The OHADA framework provides for a very structured Chart of Accounts, adapted both to large companies as well as to being used with IT tools. Without the help of a suitable software, it appeared to be a rather difficult task to prepare students to work within this framework. Simultaneously, the country's businesses urged the authorities to train accountants to learn accounting with the use of software, as it is practiced in companies.
Searching for and selecting the appropriate accounting software
Seizing this opportunity for change the Ministry set itself the objective to introduce the use of accounting software in teaching. In 2017, it commissioned the Direction des programmes scolaires et matériel didactique (DPSMD), via the school equipment division, to elaborate a plan for moving towards training that made use of accounting software. A working group was thus created to evaluate software suitable for use in training. The group then proceeded to identify several products, including Banana Accounting, a software for small businesses, produced by a Swiss company and also available in French, using an approach fairly similar to Excel and operating in various countries, equally in the field of training. The software appeared particularly suitable for their purpose, as it already implemented the OHADA framework to a great extent and furthermore, offered and included a free license for schools. The DPSMD then decided to carry out a more in-depth assessment that lasted several months, which ascertained whether the program allowed for the OHADA Chart of Accounts to be used.
Banana Accounting proved to be the most suitable program to meet the requirements identified by the DPSMD, thus it has been selected as the only accounting software for the project in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Banana Accounting is a professional accounting software that is fully compliant with the OHADA framework and Chart of Accounts. It can be used by teachers and students on an individual basis. Each one manages their own accounting, enters their transactions and once the exercises are done, files can be delivered to the teachers for correction. The interface is similar to Excel and is therefore easy to understand and allows students to experiment and correct. The program is suitable for installation on existing computers in schools, without the need for specialized technical personnel. It does not require a continuous internet connection and thanks to the free license for schools, no investment is required for the purchase and management of the software. Banana.ch remained impressed by the scope of this very ambitious and innovative project and, based on it's extensive experience in the field of training, made itself available to develop the software and to offer support in accordance with the specific needs of the process, free of charge.
The DR Congo is an extensive nation and, like other countries in the area, is faced with important logistical and infrastructural problems. Modernizing all the schools in the country was not going to be easy. The Ministry was convinced, however, that digitization would offer an incredible opportunity to allow the national training system to make up for the gap and establish itself at the forefront. The conditions for success seemed to be existent, because all the actors were highly motivated and determined to deliver their best in everything. The project enjoyed full political support on both the national and provincial level. Teachers were also eagerly looking forward to the improvements. Companies joined the project, with view and objective of being offered the opportunity of hiring young people, that had been trained within the OHADA framework and with modern IT tools, as being able to help them with their own digital transformation and the adoption of more efficient methodologies and management tools. By making them much more attractive for companies, this training also made students more competitive in the labour market and significantly increased their prospects of finding a job.
The training of coaches and teachers
There were however many difficulties to overcome. The working group deemed it necessary to proceed step by step and with due caution. A short, medium and long-term strategy were developed for the introduction of new software teaching techniques. Since it seemed not possible to train all the teachers directly, a pyramidal approach was thought of and adapted. The DPSMD would train coaches for each province. They would then train the teachers. The introduction of the program to the classes themselves, was to take place progressively, allowing for periods of experimentation and evaluation.
The working group set up a training module, stretching over ten days and helped the DPSMD to set up the training program and then dispatch it to the coaches to train the teachers. The first courses for coaches were oranized in Kinshasa in March 2019. The participants were enthusiastic and they were a complete success. Banana Accounting proved to respond well to the requirements. Installation in the classrooms was achieved without any particular drawbacks and the teachers learned how to adopt it's full potential within the expected timeframe. Everyone was motivated to take this opportunity to learn how to use new technologies and the OHADA systems. This greatly facilitated the task and made it possible to overcome the various technical problems and logistical limitations that prevailed. In the space of a few months, more than 1000 teachers were trained.
Experimentation at school
As per September 2019, schools in Kinshasa started to test, by introducing the use of software in some classes of the fourth degree. In December 2019, the first training course for coaches of other provinces of the country was held in Lubumbashi, the second city of the country. Here too, the same enthusiasm was met. A closing ceremony was held and attended by national authorities and officials from the province of Haut-Katanga. At the beginning of January 2020, the introduction of the software began for some fourth grades of the professional schools in Lubumbashi.
On the photo from left to right: Inspecteur Principal Provincial de l'enseignement primaire, secondaire et technique de la province de Lualaba; Mr Nicolas Nyangel, Inspecteur Principal Provincial de l'Enseignement primaire, secondaire et technique (EPST) du Haut-Katanga 1; Mr Michel Djamba Kaombe. Inspecteur Général de l'EPST de la DR du Congo; Ministre Provincial en charge de l'Education; Directeur Provincial de l'EPST du Haut-Katanga; Révérende Sœur Préfète du Lycée Wema.
Close technical collaboration
Staff of the Banana.ch company remained in permanent contact with the local project managers throughout the different phases of implementation, providing clarifications and technical advice. Based on instructions from the experts of the DPSMD, Banana.ch has created an extension for Banana Accounting that allow for printing of the Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Capital Flow, that comply with local regulations. The developments were made available for free. During this process, the OHADA Chart of Accounts model was also improved and delivered and made available free of charge.
The Department is requesting Banana.ch to develop other applications such as the management of VAT and printing VAT reports, according to the specifications of the DR of the Congo tax administration. Furthermore, taking advantage of the fact that the OHADA system is very structured, developments could be added such as the calculation of indices and the evaluation of a company's performance. Thanks to these developments, students could be trained on practical tax and controlling aspects. It is not easy for young people to find a job, so this comprehensive and cutting-edge training will be very important in providing them with a competitive tool in the job market.
The project is progressing very well. The DPSMD believes it will be able to train all teachers for the use of the software in a teaching context within the two years that were projected. Testing in classrooms has started and corrections and improvements will be made and added, based on the results. Meanwhile DPSMD has already amended their regulations. The DR of Congo has thus become the first nation in the world that allows students to carry out accounting exercises and exams with the aid of IT tools. When and where there are sufficient computers available, this will be a great help for teachers, who will no longer be obliged to teach the manual method, which will then generally only be used to carry out the exams.
The central element for the success of the project was the ability to install and use Banana Accounting on already existent computers in schools. The software also works on computers that are not necessarily of the latest generation and do not have an internet connection. Training of teachers and experimentation and testing by teaching students was therefore able to start and progress quickly, because no investments and technical adaptations were required. Despite very limited resources, even the public school systems, which covers the majority of the population, has managed to achieve an important technological leap and bring training in line with the requirements of the labour market. However, infrastructure remains a challenge. Not all schools in the country have computer rooms to allow every student to practice accounting and, furthermore, on an individual basis.
Useful improvements in the teaching field
For Banana.ch, the collaboration with DPSMD has been very stimulating and useful. We found ourselves working with a group of highly motivated and professional people, who know how to make up for the lack of resources and infrastructure deficiencies, thanks to an excellent knowledge of the needs of their nation and a clear vision of their priorities and the means to put in place to reach their goals.
Banana.ch was faced with a further reality of the technological aspect. Not all students in these regions own a computer, but they all have a mobile phone. Internet connections are generally slower and more expensive. This led to imagine and create solutions, where accounting can be kept via the mobile phone. As a result, additional improvements to the Android and iOS operating systems of the version of Banana Accounting were added. Technology is advancing and, within a few years, it will allow students to install the software on their smartphone and use it for accounting exercises in the classroom or at home, even when there is no internet connection.
In Banana Accounting, every function is carefully documented. However, this documentation is only accessible via the Internet. Therefore, we worked on a solution that made all the documentation available in pdf format, which can then be downloaded and used on your computer, even when there is no connection.
The introduction of accounting software generally entails significant costs for companies. The price of Banana Accounting software is well within the reach of all companies and requires no special technical infrastructure. This offer could allow multiple companies in the DR of Congo to gain access to a modern management tool, which will allow them to digitize their accounting management; efficiency and competitiveness are improved and the various tasks are carried out more easily. In the medium and long term, this could also translate into a greater prosperity for companies and in lower costs as well as higher tax revenues for the State.
Setting an example for other countries
As several studies report, there is still scarce use of software in the field of accounting training worldwide. The project of systematically introducing the use of accounting software in schools of the DR of the Congo, puts the country at the forefront of the world. We will have to wait for the results of the experimentation in classes, but the enthusiasm that the project has generated and the results achieved so far, appear remarkable. It is well possible that this project might become a point of reference for other institutions and countries, who wish to modernize the training of accounting technicians, so as to comply with the requirements of an increasingly digital world.
Current state of project
This page was drafted in late January 2020 and reports the status of the project so far. The project and developments continue and it might be possible that this information does not contain all the more recent news.