One of only three Fellows in Zambia, Mulenga C Mutati anticipates exciting growth in the country’s actuarial sector
Last February, I moved back to Zambia after 15 years living and working in London. I decided to leave a senior actuarial manager role in a Big Four firm, servicing clients in one of the world’s most lucrative, sophisticated and mature insurance markets, to use my experience and insights to benefit Zambia’s insurance sector.
I had always wanted to return to Zambia, but the timing never seemed right – until, thanks to my employer, I got the opportunity to work there for a few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. I eventually decided to make the move permanent, becoming the CEO of Gralix Actuarial Consulting.
My task was to establish and grow a local actuarial consultancy from the ground up, in a market that has long been dominated by international actuarial firms with proven track records.
A changing landscape
Despite being in its nascence, Zambia’s actuarial market is now poised for exponential growth, following some significant developments. In the forefront, the profession has received a boost from the Insurance Act 38, which came in in 2021. This introduced two key areas that will directly increase demand for actuarial professionals.
The first of these is the requirement for all licensed insurers to have an appointed actuary, similar to the chief actuary position in the UK. This was previously only required for life insurers but is now extended to general insurance companies.
Second, the act introduces risk-based solvency requirements that entail detailed and highly technical calculations, which will further fuel demand for actuaries.
In addition, IFRS17 came into effect this January – a deadline also mandated by Zambia’s insurance regulator, The Pensions and Insurance Authority.
Zambia’s changing political landscape has also been a positive boost for the actuarial sector’s profile and relevance. The government has embarked on the process of reviewing and amending the National Pension Scheme Act, to enable members to access part of their accrued contribution as a lump sum earlier in their working lives, and before reaching retirement or pensionable age. In my capacity as president of the Actuarial Society of Zambia, I have often been called upon by government authorities to contribute ideas to help implement balanced reforms informed by relevant stakeholders.
Emerging market trends are also providing new pastures. A key example is the growing amount of digital-centric opportunities within the insurance sector, driven by factors that include increased mobile penetration, the rise of mobile financial services and the public’s awareness of the value of insurance.
I expect the role of actuaries to be amplified in the areas of product design and product review, as there will be a stronger demand for ‘no-frills’ products and services that cater to a wider base of the market pyramid.
Work to be done
Despite these positive developments, there is a lot to be done to enable insurers to view actuaries as an integral part of their business development, not simply as a support function for regulatory compliance. We have also faced challenges in recruiting local actuarial senior-level staff to support Gralix’s clients, as Zambia’s actuarial sector often loses talent to other markets such as South Africa and the UK – I am currently one of only three actuarial Fellows operating in Zambia. Gralix is working to increase our talent by offering internships and engaging with insurers and pension schemes to develop actuarial departments, which will provide students with career opportunities after they graduate.
Looking to the future, I am really excited to be part of the growth of Zambia’s actuarial sector. I believe the next few years will be accompanied by a notable increase in the appreciation of the actuarial skillset in the Zambian market, and I am keen to lean on the expertise of actuaries across the world as we build the profession in the country.
Mulenga C Mutati is chief executive officer and lead actuary at Gralix Actuarial Consulting
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