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Africa’s growth story: It’s time for us to learn

John Taylor, President Elect of the IFoA, speaks about our goal of working in partnership across Africa.

John TaylorEmerging markets present an opportunity for a new generation of experts armed with actuarial skills to play a key role in a dynamic global economy being revolutionised by technology. Your Council will head to Africa this June, for the third international Council visit, as we seek to better understand how actuaries play an increasing role in Africa’s growth success story.

The IFoA has educated and regulated actuaries for over 150 years. We know globalisation is the new normal, and our diverse and growing membership base reflects the appetite for actuarial qualifications across the world. Council members participating in these visits get a real understanding of the environments in which our members live and work. Seeing the reality on the ground will inform Council decision-making as a governing body, enabling Council members to base their actions on knowledge rather than assumption.  It will ensure that Council are taking into account the challenges and opportunities faced by our international membership – no matter where they are.

So as an important part of being a truly global professional body, our Council will visit Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe with a formal Council meeting to be held on 14 June in Cape Town.

We will be meeting with our qualified members and student members, local societies, insurtech and fintech companies, employers in traditional insurance businesses, regulators and government departments across the four markets.

To give greater value to our members and stakeholders, and to support our relationships with local actuarial societies, the visit is timed to coincide with the local societies’ annual conferences in three of markets within the region: the Actuarial Student Society of Kenya (ASSK) conference in Nairobi, the Nigerian Actuarial Society (NAS) conference in Lagos and the Actuarial Society of Zimbabwe (ASZ) in Harare.  In addition, the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA) has invited the IFoA Council to participate in their annual Investment Seminar in Cape Town.  Council will have the opportunity to interact with a total of over 500+ attendees (most of whom are IFoA members) to raise the profile of the IFoA, and build both market knowledge and networks.

As with every continent, Africa has its challenges; but one of the stand-out stories of the 21st century has been Africa’s growth. Several international business observers have also named Africa as the future economic growth engine of the world.

The World Bank states that economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to recover steadily and is forecasted for 3.6% in 2019–20. This moderate growth upswing nonetheless remains uneven, with considerable variation across countries. 

The IMF states that economic recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa continues. Regional growth is set to pick up from 3 % in 2018 to 3.5 % in 2019, before stabilising at 4 % over the medium term. These region‑wide numbers mask considerable differences in the growth performance and prospects of countries across the region. About half of the region’s countries are expected to grow at 5 % or more, which would see per capita incomes rise faster than the rest of the world on average over the medium term.

We want the actuarial profession to be increasingly influential as this growth story unfolds. And the only way to do that is by talking to Associates, Fellows, students, employers and the local societies in Africa to better understand this landscape and how we support our members in the future.

Is it easy to find the time and support needed to complete the demanding actuarial exam requirements? Are there enough roles for our students and qualified members? Do our members, employers and stakeholders in Africa see the value of our offer – and if not, how can we tailor what we offer to meet their needs?

These are the some of the questions for which we hope to find out more.

However, we want the dialogue to go beyond qualifications and professional bodies. We are here to understand African innovation where actuaries and their knowledge and expertise are a valued asset or could be part of these developments. From data-centric healthcare apps to the latest developments in fintech, Africa is a hotbed of innovation; with applicability all around the world.  Council will also meet with companies in the evolving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem emerging across Sub-Saharan Africa from the “Silicon Savannah” in Kenya to “Yabacon Valley” in Nigeria.

So what we do aim to achieve from this visit?

Every market is an ever-shifting matrix of behaviours, laws, frameworks and patterns, and it’s vital we develop a deep and nuanced understanding of the Africa growth story if we want to ensure the profession can play a full and active role.

Meet the IFoA Council at key partner events across Africa

IFoA Council members will be present at the following partner events:


Actuarial Students’ Society of Kenya (ASSK) National Students Actuarial Convention and Innovation Challenge - Riding on the Wings of Change

Tuesday and Wednesday 11-12 June 2019 

Strathmore University, Madaraka Estate, Ole Sangale Road, Nairobi, Kenya

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The Actuarial Society of Kenya (TASK) Digitalization Working Party Launch + Workshop - The Digital Economy: Imperatives & Actions

Strathmore Business School, Strathmore University, Madaraka Estate, Ole Sangale Road, Nairobi, Kenya

Wednesday 12 June, 8:00 am- 12:00 pm

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Nigerian Actuarial Society (NAS) Annual Industry Conference - Data Analytics: Meeting Customer Expectations

Victoria Crown Plaza (VCP) Hotel, 292 Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

Tuesday 11 June 2019

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Actuarial Society of Zimbabwe (ASZ) Annual Convention - Adapt: Remaining Relevant in a Volatile Environment while Maintaining Focus

Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel, 54 Parklane, Harare, Zimbabwe

Thursday and Friday 13 -14 June

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