In areas of growth, the right education is essential to seize the benefits, says Kelvin Chamunorwa
Six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, and the continent boasts the youngest population, projected to double to two billion by 2050. These statistics demonstrate the remarkable potential of Africa. Foreign investment into the continent is at a peak as institutional investors and multinational corporations take positions on the ground, in anticipation of attractive returns in the long term. The sentiment is of an Africa that is rising - and, with it, burgeoning consumer demand, including for insurance and savings products.
Such tremendous growth presents challenges to be overcome. For me, these were aptly summed up by last month's World Economic Forum on Africa.
Its theme, 'Forging inclusive growth, creating jobs' highlighted how crucial it is to ensure that economic prosperity benefits all of Africa's citizens. Its location, Abuja in Nigeria, a short distance from the school where 200 girls were abducted from their classrooms, was a poignant reminder of the threat of forces that oppose an educated youth.
It is easy to take one's education for granted, but I have been heartened by the engagement from readers who have written in with strong views of the mathematical content in our actuarial exams.
I think the challenge extends beyond ensuring that the balance of mathematics and communication is right today. It requires a longer-term view to identify the lucrative areas in which actuaries should be influential in future, and then equipping ourselves with the knowledge and skills required to meet the growing need.
For example, the recent UK Budget presented an overhaul to pensions, indicating the new direction of travel. The pensions articles this month explore some of the specific issues. The public will need education and support to make financial decisions for retirement. Actuaries will have a different role to play than they do today.
I received a thought-provoking letter (pg. 6) from Trevor Llanwarne, the UK Government Actuary, where he looks at a topical area he thinks actuaries might contribute more, and uses this to make similar points. Please send in your answers to the questions that Trevor poses. I reassure you, there's no pass mark.