SA needs more than 16% black actuaries – Cyril Ramaphosa

2014-02-21 14:05

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ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has made a call for more black actuaries as he vacates his position as chair of the SA Actuaries Development Programme.

The programme works in conjunction with the universities of Cape Town, Wits and Pretoria and financially supports black students who are studying actuarial science.

According to the Actuarial Society of SA, although the majority of qualified actuaries are white, student numbers show a move towards a more transformed profession.

In 2013, the Actuarial Society of SA had 956 qualified members (fellows and associates) of whom only 153 (16%) were black. In order to use the designation, actuaries must either be a fellow member of the Actuarial Society of SA or an associate member.

However, the society had 732 white actuarial student members, who had achieved an undergraduate or honours degree, and 728 African, Indian and coloured student members.

“We have put 396 young people through this programme and 145 of them or so graduated,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said he was proud of the rate of transformation of the programme had been able to effect, but that more needed to be done.

“Many of us never thought that black people would be given an opportunity like this – to get into a profession like this – so soon after 1994. It has happened because we have been focused and quite pointed in what we wanted to achieve, so it’s important to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we are and say this is happening because this country has changed so much. It has changed irrevocably, and we will never be able to go back to where we come from because from now on we move ahead,” Ramaphosa said.

He said the next generation of students would not need as much help.

“You’ve needed the support because you come from a horrible past. Now that you are where you are, your own children and the children who follow that will not need support because what we do know is that the level of intelligence and the depth of understanding of issues resides in you and all that was needed in this programme was to unlock it,” he told students taking part in the programme.

“It was kept locked by the horrible apartheid system for many of us and for you, in part, but we have been able to unlock it and many of you are on your way to becoming actuaries and on your way to becoming what the president always calls ‘clever blacks’, and we are very proud of all that,” he said, laughing.

He also said he was grateful for the stability of the country, particularly when compared to the past and the ructions independence had caused in other African countries.

“We live in a very stable country, a country that has its own challenges and some of our challenges stem from the past, stem from the history, but they are very much challenges that we can address.”

Ramaphosa also said he was involved in a rolling mass campaign to encourage reading, especially at schools, which he loves to visit.

“Many South Africans don’t read, we hate books, we hate the written word. What I think we do love are cellphones; the penetration of cellphones is well over 130% in South Africa, but when it comes to reading, we are truly backwards.”

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