Loving Africa 2(Sameway Leisure 459)


Queenie Chow TranslatorCher Cheng


[ ] Me and West African senior

actuary at beach in Ghana

[ ] Togo

Togo Masks at artisan market

[ ] Lizard outside my apartment





Beautiful beach in Togo

[ ] At Conference

[ ]Photo taken

at conference lunch




Queenie Chow TranslatorCher Cheng

Dream a little


"This is Africa" ? !

[ ] Dinner with committee of

the Actuarial Society of Ghana

[ ] Kids on the street at Lome


After almost 2 full days of travel – I am

finally in Togo!

No doubt it was one of my longest

trips around the globe – flying from

Melbourne to Bangkok, to Nairobi, to Accra

and another 5 hours of car ride to arrive

at my final destination Togo – totalling 38


I have arrived in the capital of Togo,

Lomé just in time for the excitement of the

annual AIO Life Insurance - Demystifying

Life Insurance. The African Insurance

Organisation (AIO) is a non-governmental

organisation recognised by many African

governments in promoting inter-African cooperation

and development of a healthy

insurance and re-insurance industry. The

conference which had taken place in the

modern prestigious Pan African Centre of

EcoBank (ETI) was unquestionably a highquality


Without a doubt, this conference gave

me a small glimpse of the big business

world of Africa with insights into the latest

African industry news, product innovation,

market trends, micro-insurance, riskmanagement

and regulations. It gave me

the invaluable opportunities to network and

gain insight from leading industry experts

from all over Africa. Many often have the

misconception that Africa is a country.

But it does not take long for one to realise

during this conference that Africa is in fact

an entire continent marked with an amazing,

unparalleled diversity of languages, peoples

and nations. One may not realise how big

the continent Africa actually is – it covers the

same surface as 13 countries – including

the United States, China and India - and

the whole of Eastern Europe! There are at

least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups in Africa

– here is no continent more blessed with

striking beauty and diversity than the African


I was also given the remarkable

opportunity in the conference in sharing

some of my actuarial insight as an Actuaries

Without Borders member. Interestingly,

the host of the conference made several

explicit comments about the rarity of female

speakers – he was almost shocked to

see female presenters. Unquestionably,

African women continue to face some

grim facts in gender equality. According

to the World Bank, at 61 percent, women

in Sub-Saharan Africa have one of the

highest labour force participation rates in

the world. Yet across Africa women face

an array of barriers to achieving their full

potential, from restrictive cultural practices

to discriminatory laws and highly segmented

labour markets. High respect should be

given to the various African initiatives

which continue to work towards eliminating

gender inequality and empowering women

in boosting the continents development


It was also fascinating to note on the

second day of the seminar that although

the scheduled seminar started at 8:30 am,

the majority of the participants only leisurely

arrived at 9:30 am to make a start to the

packed schedule of the conference –

African time. According to one Ghanian

writer: The problem of punctuality has

become so endemic that lateness to any

function is accepted and explained off

as 'African time. African time is

the perceived cultural tendency in parts

of Africa toward a more relaxed attitude

to time. Indeed, such cultural tendency is

reflected in the more leisurely, relaxed, and

less rigorously-scheduled lifestyle found

in African countries, in contrast to the

clock-bound pace of daily life in Western

countries. Even when a seminar session

has run over schedule for over half an

hour, participants can still leisurely raise a

question statement of over 15 minutes!

Yet the comfort of the venue and the

excellent catering of such fine conference

has almost disguised the fact of that I am

now in one of the poorest regions of the

world – West Africa. Is this really TIA*?

* TIA - This is Africa is a common

phrase among expatriates here. It is used

to shrug off or laugh off unexplainable

or inconceivable cultural differences





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