ACCA vs CPA Kenya – which is better?

For those who have been wondering which is better between CPA and ACCA, we shall compare the two certifications in this ACCA vs CPA Kenya article to help you make an informed decision.

Let’s get started:

What is ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accounts)?

ACCA is a finance certification that is globally recognized for its tradition of providing students with the skills and ability to excel in fast-changing business environments.

By the time you’re getting the qualification, you will have mastered what is needed to succeed in finance careers such as taxation, investment banking, financial management, auditing, accounting, and more.

The qualification is so called since it is examined by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

What is CPA Course in Kenya?

The CPA (Certified Public Accountant) teaches you skills and competencies required to work in fields such as financial accounting, business consulting, management accounting, auditing, taxation, and a variety of other finance areas.

The CPA is more or less recognized mostly in Kenya and the east Africa region and is examined by KASNEB (Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board).


ACCA vs CPA Kenya – full comparison

First, you should know that even though the two finance certifications can be both marketable, they differ considerably.

They also have share common papers meaning you can get exemptions if you hold either a CPA or an ACCA qualification when registering for the other.

Here are the differences:

1. Their structure

How is the ACCA structured?

There are 13 papers you need to pass in the ACCA programme (unless you apply for and earn exemptions).

There is also an additional Ethics & Professional Skills module to be passed.

Furthermore, you can gain extra qualifications on your ACCA journey including:

  • in Applied Accounting –awarded by Oxford Brookes University
  • in Professional Accountancy- awarded by the University of London

Here is the current ACCA structure:

Applied Knowledge

  • Accountant in Business(AB)
  • Management Accounting(MA)
  • Financial Accounting(FA)

Applied Skills

  • Corporate and Business Law(CL)
  • Performance Management(PM)
  • Taxation(TX)
  • Financial Reporting(FR)
  • Audit and Assurance(AA)
  • Financial Management(FM)

Optional: BSc. degree in Applied Accounting (Oxford Brookes University)

Strategic Professional Essentials

Core Units (Compulsory)

  • Strategic Business Reporting(SBR)
  • Strategic Business Leader(SBL)

Optional Units (Pick Two)

  • Advanced Financial Management(AFM)
  • Advanced Performance Management(APM)
  • Advanced Taxation(ATX)
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance(AAA)

Optional: in Professional Accountancy (University of London)

How is the CPA structured?

There are 18 papers to be passed. The papers are organized in sections (you take 3 papers per section) and parts (2 sections make up a part).

There are three parts (in total) to be completed to become a CPA-K.

Here is the breakdown:


Section 1

  • Paper No. 1- Financial Accounting
  • Paper No. 2- Business Law
  • Paper No. 3- Entrepreneurship and Communication

Section 2

  • Paper No. 4- Economics
  • Paper No. 5- Management Accounting
  • Paper No. 6- Public Finance and Taxation


Section 3

  • Paper No. 7- Company Law
  • Paper No. 8- Financial Management
  • Paper No. 9- Financial Reporting

Section 4

  • Paper No. 10- Auditing and Assurance
  • Paper No. 11- Management Information Systems
  • Paper No. 12- Quantitative Analysis


Section 5

  • Paper No. 13- Strategy, Governance and Ethics
  • Paper No. 14- Advanced Management Accounting
  • Paper No. 15- Advanced Financial Management

Section 6

  • Paper No. 16- Advanced Public Finance & Taxation
  • Paper No. 17- Advanced Auditing & Assurance
  • Paper No. 18- Advanced Financial Reporting

Note: The KASNEB CPA syllabus is changing soon so this structure may change significantly. We shall update the article as soon as the new syllabus is officially released.

2. Target market

As mentioned earlier, the ACCA is accepted around the World so it can be a good choice if you want to work outside Kenya (or work for companies outside Kenya remotely).

On the other hand, CPA is most popular among employers in Kenya and the wider east Africa community.

3. Cost of studying

If money is an issue, it is more affordable to study for the CPA than the ACCA.

On average, the tuition fee for each ACCA paper (assuming you’ll attend classes) is Kshs.20000. Remember you have to pay for registration (£79), exam/exemption (charges per paper starts at £114), and the annual subscription (£112*) directly to ACCA.

The total amount that goes to ACCA by the time you’re completing is well over Kshs.200000/- so the course can be quite pricey.

In contrast, the KASNEB charges for the CPA exams are as follows:

  • Registration fees-Ksh.7500
  • Registration renewal fees (Annual)– Kshs.2000
  • Exam fee:
  • Section 1-shs.3500
  • Section 2-shs.3500
  • Section 3-shs.6000
  • Section 4-shs.6000
  • Section 5-shs.9000
  • Section 6-shs.9000


4. Minimum Entry Requirements

CPA- The minimum entry requirement is C+ mean grade at KCSE. You can also be accepted with other KASNEB qualifications including Accounting Technician Diploma(ATD) or their equivalents.

ACCA- You can join ACCA with a grade below C (plain) though you have to complete a Foundation Diploma in Accounting & Business before proceeding to the full qualification.

That said, the usual minimum entry requirement to go directly to ACCA is KCSE C- (or an equivalent)

5. Course duration

Here ACCA wins.

You see, to complete ACCA (without going through the foundational diploma first), it will take you 2 academic years (6 semesters).

But it takes you 3 years to complete the CPA exam (assuming you take the exam for 1 section, each examination sitting).

However, those bold enough to take 2 sections at a go take just 1 ½ years.

Keep in mind that we are assuming you pass the exams on the first attempt in all cases.


ACCA vs CPA Kenya – frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is ACCA easier than CPA?

Somewhat yes! Those who have pursued both qualifications argue that ACCA seems a bit friendlier.

This may be because plenty of quality study materials are available to ACCA students through ACCA approved learning centers not to mention that the practice exams are handy when revising for ACCA exams.

We should add that one of our writers is a CPA-K and after comparing CPA and ACCA papers, he also agrees that ACCA questions look kinder to students!

Is CPA better than ACCA?

Well, as mentioned at the start of this ACCA vs CPA Kenya comparison article, you cannot truly rank any of the two qualifications as being better than the other.

We have discussed the reasons that make the two different – and hence unsuitable for this-is-better kind of ranking- throughout the article.

The ideal thing to do is look at the available opportunities for both, your career goals, your other qualifications, and related factors before choosing to enroll for one over the other.

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Further reading:

KASNEB Loans and Bursaries to students 


Online CPA classes in Kenya

KASNEB CPA fee structure

CPA course in Kenya – all you need to know

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CPA John Gitahi is a former college lecturer and has been involved in education all his life. He's passionate about helping young people make great career choices. He studied Commerce and ICT at the University and runs several successful online entreprises. He is also an avid traveller.

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