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LAST UPDATE: 24/9/2008 - 5:58PM EAT

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Remarkable skill boost for insurance industry

2008-08-04 09:24:08
By Perege Gumbo

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) have launched new insurance courses targeting rarest skills currently facing the industry.

Speaking in an exclusive interview over the weekend, the Commissioner for Insurance, Israel Kamuzora said that while IFM pioneered risk management courses, the UDSM would from this year�s intake launch a degree programme in actuarial sciences.

Commencing of the new courses has come in the wake of acute shortage of indigenous specialised skills in insurance industry.

Actuarial experts often study trends of insurance business for a certain period, in the end determining possibilities of future scenarios, especially the nature of risks.

Their basic business role is to ensure that management of each insurer is provided with expert advice on the value of its insurance liabilities so that it can make decisions on the value of those liabilities in an informed manner.

�With such training measures, we expect that within two to three years from now, we should be able to reduce the shortage of skilled staff in the insurance sector by using human resources developed by our own colleges�, Kamuzora said.

He linked prevailing severe shortage of skilled manpower in the insurance sector to firstly; the historical background, particularly hinged on past socialist economic policies which placed little value on competition.

Subsequently, economic liberalisation has brought with it increased number of insurance companies, enlarged range of competitive products and services; all these putting demand on new skills and education culture.

``This is not only a challenge to the insurance sector alone, because new players in the hospitality industry such as hotel would like to employ a worker whose qualifications and standards are comparable to global benchmarks,`` he added.

Kamuzora had earlier on Thursday last week officially opened a one-day seminar on `Business Interruption Insurance`, which he said was essential for the survival of the industry.

He told insurance stakeholders from various companies that ``gaining knowledge on insurance products would help consumers to understand whether the policy one was buying was really what one requires``.

�Good knowledge helps the insurer and brokers make sure they have explained all aspects of the policy they negotiate to consumers, as they are duty bound to provide explanations on various aspects of any policy to respective buyers� he said.

On his part, the Managing Director of Tanzindia Assurance Company Limited John Pulinthamam, said the theme under scrutiny was ``one of the least known and understood, but yet a most useful insurance cover in contemporary businesses and industries``.

Actuarial services in Tanzania are mostly imported from across Kenya, at a premium.



Nalitolela, P. S. said...

I saw the UDSM Prospectus in 2006 and they had the B.Com Actuarial Science listed as one of the courses being offered in the Faculty of Commerce and Management (FCM), but in truth it was all a lie; was there just for political reasons. Like most of the things we do back home; people rushed into trying to implement something they hadn't even planned through. I even met a BA Stats graduate at this job interview; he told me FCM had hired him as a Tutor for the new Actuarial Science program they were planning to start, but after being there for a few month he left after realizing the whole thing was nowhere near take-off; I mean the poor guy wasn't even on the University's payroll; he was being paid by funds from FCM and had no official employment record with the University, benefits or whatsoever.

Anyways, I see they have finally got their stuff together and are ready to officially launch the program. I am wary of a few things though. Actuarial Science is a subject which encompasses a variety of disciplines, the core of which is Statistics. That is why in Most Universities, Actuarial degrees are usually offered in the same department that offers Statistics or Mathematics.

I understand there a number of Universities which offer Actuarial degrees as part of the business program (i.e. BCom, BBuSc, etc); I particularly noticed that South African and Australia Universities take this trend. However, you would find that even in those cases there is close collaboration between all the departments involved (statistics, math, commerce, economics, etc). UDSM on the other hand, have in recent years, had a staffing problem and most departments hate to have their faculty be assigned to teach service courses because they do not have enough personnel to deal with the core courses to start with. There is also a problem of internal politics and departments fighting for ownership of the program. Let us hope people can put their egos and personal ambitions aside and work for the benefit of the profession.

There is also the obvious problem that the profession being new and unfamiliar in Tanzania, there is a shortage of of people with postgraduate and/or professional (e.g. FIA, FFA, FSA, FCAS) to teach higher level courses that would need instructors with such expertise.

All in all, I hope that UDSM have clearly though this through and concrete plans have been made to ensure the program starts off successfully and without any glitches.

I remember reading somewhere a while ago that the University of Connecticut (UCONN) from the US was helping UDSM with their plans for the Actuarial Science program. UDSM could attract high caliber individuals to become part of the program with an offer for Master's and PhD at UCONN and other Universities abroad.

It is quite a pleasant coincidence that UDSM is launching their Actuarial program in September, because plans have been underway to launch the Actuarial Society of Tanzania (actuarial.tz@gmail.com) this coming October. This is a challenge to the Society's Interim Chairperson, Mr. Ibrahim Maftah and Vice-Chairperson, Ms. Faith Mpatwa; both established Actuaries, as well the rest the Executive to assist UDSM in each and every way.

Traditionally Tanzania has not had inter-University programs and research institutes (at least none that I know of). Now, with IFM already offering advanced Diplomas and Postgraduate Diplomas in both Insurance and Risk Management and Social Security Administration; UDSM could benefit a lot through collaboration with IFM.

This is also a challenge to PPF, PSPF, NSSF, LAPF, ZSSF, NHIF, ISD and all Insurance Companies in Tanzania to provide e helping hand, as it is these organizations that will get first had benefits from the fruits of the UDSM Actuarial Program.

Anonymous said...

Nalitolela, let’s keep the argument straight, and with no due respect, it is not true to say that UDSM did or does not have instructors that are able to teach the actuarial science degree subjects. Let me make this clear – The responsibility of the certification relies on the individuality of the students and their prospectus work place and boards that recognize them and UDSM as an educational institution, one of its purposes include offering accredited degree that fits those boards’ demands.

The reasons that made UDSM to start the course late were part made on financial and part some other legitimate reasons. It was not easy for them to just start the program without having the required money to boost the program, and as it is known now half of the money will be coming from the public institutions that will hire those graduates.

It is understood that to graduate with actuaries science degree a student has to have three semesters of calculus, two semesters of statistics, three semesters of economics, one semester of finance, business communications and a well-rounded group of liberal arts courses. I am sure that to its part UDSM have all those instructors and professors ready and in hand - ways years back, that through their education level they are able to cater those subjects and accommodate all actuaries’ science attendees on their day to day subjects in order to graduate their bachelor degree. And I am sure that UDSM made all efforts to make that degree accredited as all other degrees that it offers.

I will only agree with you on one thing -that Tanzania in general does not have many insuarance professionals that are actuarial certified as to the sense that we are still new to the actuarial importance passé. Many of our insurance workers are IFM graduates with fewer who opted to sit the actuarial certified exams that are offered with boards such as CAS and SOA. This is the same to the case of CPA holders in Tanzania, despite many students graduating in accounting degrees that can make them eligible to sit for CPA exams depending to their levels.
In US you can become an actuarial certified regardless your business, math’s or economics etc degree, as long as you meet the required credits or attend (do a review) to meet the required courses/subjects that you don’t have or left to sit for the CAS or SOA exams. Many of my friends have passed their exams and are board registered now working with American Fidelity Life insurance company and basically they are dealing with health savings accounts.

Keep the forum up, as I keep reading your views now and then, and I have found them very constructive. Lets agree to disagree on some of the issues depending on the level of our education,experince and guts feeling. By the way I am' a CPA working with one of the firms here in Seattle, WA - US.

Nalitolela, P. S. said...

thank you for your comments Anonymous poster from Tue Aug 05, 11:21:00 PM EAT

I agree with a lot of what you say; let me just clarify a few things

1. When I mentioned a brief history of UDSM listing the program for a couple of years before they actually started offering it, my intention was to show how organized most of our institutions usually are. I did not mean they should have started teaching the program back then when they didn't have the resources, but the point I was making is that there were rushing things then and there was obvious miscommunication between different units i.e. administration, FCM, etc., so hopefully they have things sorted out now, and they are not just rushing to get this thing started without adequate preparation.

2. I know to get the full certification it is up to the student to do the exam, but a strong program should enable a student to get a few exemptions and also be able to sit for a few of the earlier exams without having to do a whole lot of independent studying; unlike someone who doesn't have a degree in Actuarial Science. Same way that a graduate accountant starts at Modle E of CPA (T) and not ATEC I or Module A.

3. However, as to my comment about inadequate qualified professionals to teach the subject; I strongly stand by my comment. Not any combination of mathematics, statistics, economics and business instructors can teach an Actuarial Science/Actuarial Studies degree. That is why there are not so many Universities (not just in Tanzania even worldwide) that offer these degrees; even though almost every University does has the departments aforementioned. If it was that easy, it was just a matter of having economists, statisticians, etc. Just as an example, not every Mathematician can teach mathematical finance courses, and other than Dr. Mahera, there was no one else even interested in Insurance and Financial Math in the Dept of Math before; unless they have hired someone in the last few months. So I stand by my comment, we need adequate people with postgrad training in Actuarial Science or Professional Qualification. I am sure UDSM must have made hired adequate personal to cover the needs right now, but if the program is going to produce graduates who are going to excel in the profession; more qualified instructors are needed.

Anonymous said...

Good development but, a BIG BUT:

I think the issue in TZ is not just the launch of this and that program to alleviate the problems in the country (professional problems or otherwise). We appear to face another real problem, hidden within our inner selves!! Nobody else except ourselves can see that "real problem", let's be true to ourselves!!

Just as an example: we've had the Accounting board long time ago, but misappropriation of funds has been the order of the day, this went on apparently freely and climaxed into unvouched (or unvouchable) billions at the BoT, only to be revealed by external Audit firm. Where was/are our CPAs??

Engineering faculty has been at the hill long time, but buildings keep on falling like we are above geocological faulty zone for targeted earthquakes!!

Muhimbili medicine varsity?? …poor health sector, patients comntinue to flock to India, SA, Kenya!!

IFM is the institute for "finance", we have BCom Finance, and a number of Finance courses, but as President BWM argued when bringing in Net Group to Tanesco that we are not yet ready in the field of financial management!!

Faculty of Law was one of the first at the hill (if not only the first), …unable to read fine prints in the contracts!! Even our leaders are contemplating seeking external law services!!

We've the best institute on agriculture in our region (SUA), but the sector leaves a lot to be desired!! IDM??? ...our development is managed from Washington DC!!

Chuo cha usafirishaji?? ...Only God knows what people behind the wheel are thinking when they are causing even avoidable (or "evadable") accidents!! Cooperative college?? ...the sector is in a terrible state!! UCLAS?? ...terrible town planning and substandard housing!! Water Institute (Rwegalurila)?? ...half of capital city (DSM) lacks the service!!
Veta & SIDO?? ...even furnitures are imported from some desert countries (mbao zinaondoka tunaziona)!! Chuo cha Magogoni?? ...could be the only success story, I don’t know!!

Yes, let’s welcome this new program at the same time work out thoroughly to heal our respective inner selves, na tuchukie kuitwa nchi maskini!! Mpaka sasa hatujamsaidia Raisi wetu kujibu swali kwamba ni kwa nini TZ ni maskini aliposama wakati wa mahojiano na FT pale Amsterdam!!

I believe if we will put our brain at home, tremendous changes will be assured!! Even Japan was in such state years before 1870s!!

idd Davis said...

This is interesting especially the anonymous comments caught me write something I do agree with you UDSM can teach any course! Look they are teaching Telecom,computer engineering,electronics etc etc why not actuarial? Well they can!! But the big question remains do we have computer engineers from UDSM? We all agree we don't ,let me explain in a nutshell just one scenario at UD case you have been away for so long..I was enrolled for computer Engineering in 2005 only to discover the only thing I'll learn is pascal programming language-forgoten on earth for almost years ago! they didnt even have a
dedicated lab for practicals, simply because they rushed
it,no lecturers no nothing only guys who did
informatics in the early 90's thought they will be able to
teach computer science,despite the fact we have
Tanzanians who could be hired,the management wont let
them do the job, i remember this one instance they hired
this guy from Germany (Tanzanian) when he offered to
change things he just received a big no... you the reason? ( you are hired to teach you will teach what you are told to)..Dr Murobi had to learn pascal and that was it...

Actuarial will pose another serious problem teaching staff ,
let's make this clear,you must have an actuary to teach
typical actuarial subjects say actuarial
mathematics,life contingency etc , even economics actuaries do is rather different,though people can be hired
is not that easy countries like South Africa still face this
problem despite having more than 700 hundred qualified
actuaries getting one to teach full time is very expensive
given the high market demand ,yes we do get partime
Lecturers but at a huge price in terms of fees
let's not forget that actuarial is probably the most difficult
professional to get ( with only one third of people who start actuarial degree eventually become actuaries) ,is a hard and a very long journey hence a strong academic program
is indispensable especially in the early stages (degree
level) this will ensure maximum exemptions depending on
the board one is registered, be assured is not easy to get
an exemption ( first varsity module to be approved as a
board subject equivalent is a hell of discussion and when
approved the minimum passmark is normally very high (for
Uk board normally is 65 to 70),and those modules allowed
the varsity has to buy some of the notes from the actuarial
education company I hope UDSM has taken all this into
account otherwise it will be a waste of time if people get
their degree in actuarial without a single exemption which
means they will have to write about 15 professional exams
(increasing later next year) before qualification!
let me not just be critical about UDSM program ,I think is a
nice move and they are very luck being able to learn from
their own mistakes, I hope this time they will play the cards
well,they don't,we only adding a mess of courses jus like
electronics and computer engineering,courses which
should not be at UD in the first place

Nalitolela, P. S. said...

well said Idd.

By the way folks, Idd is an Actuarial Science student abroad!