Thohoyandou - Outgoing FirstRand Limited CEO Sizwe Nxasana believes that South Africa can change and transform the future of Africa by increasing its number of chartered accountants.Nxasana was speaking at the launch of a new capacity development programme between the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), the University of Johannesburg and the University of Venda. While the project has been in operation since last year, it was launched officially on Friday at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou.“We can change the poverty [and] the unemployment if we give our youth the skills and knowledge they need to transform the academic sector, as well as the leadership style,” said Nxasana, who is also chairperson of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund and is a Saica advisory member.The capacity building project is part of Saica’s Thuthuka project. BankSeta is funding the project to the tune of R68m until 2017.“The Thuthuka skills development programme has been regarded as the best capacity building programme in the world, and has attracted and inspired countries such as Brazil and Malaysia,” he said."While it is important to expose this programme to the rest of the world, charity begins at home; it is in this regard that it is important to partner with the University of Venda, the University of Johannesburg and Saica to build the best capacity building in the world.“This country deals with many challenges, challenges of poverty and unemployment, and we can change this poverty and unemployment if we give our youngsters the skills that are going to enable them to, not only operate as accountants, but to operate as leaders,” he said.“We want to build a brand new team of responsible leaders who are successful and add value to society."Shortage of accounting professionalsThe new generation of leaders should be leaders who mad a significant impact on society, rather than leaders who were merely successful in their own right.There is currently a shortage of accounting professionals, both in the private and public sector, with about 37 000 chartered accountants in the country.The partnership would see students studying towards a four-year BCom Accounting Sciences degree at the University of Venda and their Certificate in Theory of Accounting (CTA) at the University of Johannesburg.“The ultimate aim of the qualification is for the University of Venda to play a significant role and contribute towards transformation by producing those world-class CAs who are desperately needed in the region as a whole,” said Venda University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mbati.The capacity building project would not only equip more students with better finance skills, but would assist in providing organisations with skilled and qualified leaders, Mbati said.Bankseta's secretary Caroline King said: “We are committed to the transformation of the key professions that support our sector, namely Accounting and Actuarial Science."