Call for actuaries to collaborate with government to rid SA of ‘wicked problems’

As the world continues to grapple with the “wicked problems” created by the Covid-19 pandemic,  governments able to efficiently mobilise their diverse talent pools appear to be presenting their citizens with better outcomes than those unable to do so, according to Lusani Mulaudzi, President of the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

Lusani Mulaudzi, President of the Actuarial Society of South Africa
Lusani Mulaudzi, President of the Actuarial Society of South Africa

Addressing the Society’s first ever virtual Convention held earlier this week, Mulaudzi points out that the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the critical importance of expert advisers in policymaking, especially when dealing with “wicked problems”. A wicked problem, a term introduced in 1973 by American theorists Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber, refers to unique social policy problems where solutions must be implemented with great care, because they are usually not reversible and will have far reaching consequences for ordinary citizens.

Mulaudzi says experts like Fauci and Ferguson have become household names almost overnight, illustrating the critical importance of the choice of expert advisors in policymaking. He adds that despite this, most governments still overlook the skills set available within the actuarial profession, even with the profession’s excellent reputation as a custodian of financial security systems.

“Insurance is the most well-known example of a financial security system and in this system actuaries fulfil the roles of designers, adaptors, problem solvers, risk estimators, innovators and technicians. Although government systems dealing with public welfare fit the definition of a financial security system, the involvement of actuaries in shaping these systems remains limited in the most countries with the exception of the UK, New Zealand, US and a handful of other jurisdictions.”

Mulaudzi points out that now, more than ever, there is a need for collective action. “We may not always like politicians, but it is now more important than ever to work with them and assist them to make the best possible policy decisions to address the risk of widening inequality.”

According to Mulaudzi, “wicked problems” tend to compound inequality, particularly in developing countries. Calling on his fellow actuaries to use their skills to help manage these problems, he points out that this is not something that can be achieved alone.

“Therefore our focus should be on creating a culture and institutional frameworks for collaboration with policymakers and other experts.”

He stresses that building a collaborative environment is a two-way street, which will require the actuarial profession to make a bigger effort to make itself heard at policymaker level.

He points out that the disconnect between science and policy is not unique to South Africa. In an effort to address this shortcoming in Europe, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, prepared a policy handbook that provides advice on how to bring science to the attention of policymakers.

“This effort is an acknowledgement that science and policy need to cooperate to address the ‘wicked problems’ of this age. The actuarial profession can take a leaf from this handbook to learn about the skills and practices for individual actuarial policy entrepreneurs as well as the institutional framework conducive for a collaborative relationship.”

Mulaudzi says the Society is committed to facilitating greater collaboration through pertinent research and public interest work.

“We will continue to invest in our research efforts as part of our drive to become global leaders in context-based solutions. Our public interest work is at the forefront of those efforts and soon we will be awarding research contracts to some of our members to conduct research in identified public policy challenges.” He concludes that he is confident that the “wicked problems” facing South Africa can be addressed, but only through collaboration by policymakers and other experts, including actuaries.



Latest


18 Jan 2021
SA failed to get its act together on vaccines: here’s how

By Shabir A. Madhi, University of the Witwatersrand South Africa has an estimated population approaching 60 million. To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19,…

SA failed to get its act together on vaccines: here’s how

By Shabir A. Madhi, University of the Witwatersrand South Africa has an estimated population approaching 60 million. To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, the government recently set the ambitious goal of vaccinating 67% of the population – roughly 40 million people. According to the outline of this plan, this would be achieved within 2021. But…

18 Jan 2021
Foreign holdings of nominal SAGBs increase to 35.7% in December

By RMB Research According to the National Treasury (NT), combined holdings (fixed-rate and inflation-linked) of government bonds increased to 29.9%…

Foreign holdings of nominal SAGBs increase to 35.7% in December

By RMB Research According to the National Treasury (NT), combined holdings (fixed-rate and inflation-linked) of government bonds increased to 29.9% in December from 29.7% in November. Nominal (fixed-rate) SAGBs: Investor holdings as at the end of December 2020 are as follows:Non-resident investors hold 35.7% (R791.78bn).Monetary authorities hold 22.6% (R501.79bn).Official pension funds…

18 Jan 2021
Getting to grips with private market investments

Investors put their money in expert hands to grow it through investments in shares, bonds, cash and property. These are traditional investment…

Getting to grips with private market investments

Investors put their money in expert hands to grow it through investments in shares, bonds, cash and property. These are traditional investment types available on the stock exchanges of most public markets. However investors can also choose to invest in alternative investments – available in private markets. This gives them access to investment types that are not available…

12 Jan 2021
Steven Nathan steps down as CEO of 10X Investments

After 15 years at the helm, 10X Investments’ founder and CEO Steven Nathan has resigned, effective 31 December 2020, in…

Steven Nathan steps down as CEO of 10X Investments

After 15 years at the helm, 10X Investments’ founder and CEO Steven Nathan has resigned, effective 31 December 2020, in order to pursue other interests.  This is according to a statement issued today. The statement says: In line with 10X’s succession plans, the company’s Executive Chairman, Henk Beets, will assume responsibility…


Top stories


10 Sep 2020
How too much choice is draining your brain

By: Paul Nixon, head of technical marketing and behavioural finance at Momentum Investments From the words of Francis Scott Key…

How too much choice is draining your brain

By: Paul Nixon, head of technical marketing and behavioural finance at Momentum Investments From the words of Francis Scott Key that dubbed America “The land of the free”, which stuck, to the unforgettable Mel Gibson monologue where an army of painted Scots were willing to trade their lives for the…

13 Apr 2020
Investors should keep a reasonable investment allocation outside of SA

MoneyMarketing asked Roland Gräbe, the head of Tailored Fund Portfolios at Old Mutual Wealth, about offshore investments in the COVID-19…

Investors should keep a reasonable investment allocation outside of SA

MoneyMarketing asked Roland Gräbe, the head of Tailored Fund Portfolios at Old Mutual Wealth, about offshore investments in the COVID-19 environment and what form a global market recovery will take.

13 Apr 2020
SA’s Proposed Covid-19 Disaster Management Tax Relief

The National Treasury recently issued the draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill (Bill) for public comment by 15 April. The…

SA’s Proposed Covid-19 Disaster Management Tax Relief

The National Treasury recently issued the draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill (Bill) for public comment by 15 April. The draft Bill, together with its explanatory memorandum, provides clarity with regards the tax relief measures President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on 23 March.

10 Apr 2020
When the going gets tough, farmers are on familiar territory

South African farmers are old hands at adapting to uncertain and daunting circumstances, and our local agricultural industry has proved…

When the going gets tough, farmers are on familiar territory

South African farmers are old hands at adapting to uncertain and daunting circumstances, and our local agricultural industry has proved to be most enterprising in acclimatising to challenges as they arise.


Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za