Insurance World

NAICOM Advocates African Govt Support To Boost Insurance Devt

African governments at several occasions have been called upon to support the insurance sector in other to increase growth and development.

This year, the call is being reechoed by Nigerian insurance regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), especially because a Nigerian and insurance company CEO, Mr. Tope Smart is the new President of the African Insurance Organistion (AIO), a body representing the African insurance sector.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas who made the call at the just concluded conference of the AIO, charge the new president of AIO to cap it by vigorously persuading the governments across the continent to play their roles in providing the necessary support and create an enabling environment for insurance activities to flourish.

According to him AIO should also persuade the governments on continued lifting of border barriers making movement of resources almost impossible, promote healthy competitions amongst member states and promoting knowledge sharing across the continent among other objectives that will make insurance business thrive within the African markets.

Thomas who said the commission has been able to get more support from the Nigerian government stated that the this is the very first time that any Nigerian President or Head of State will personally attend any program of the insurance sector in Nigeria.

He expressed excitement that not only is President Buhari paying attention to the sector, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Finance, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed and other State Governors are also doing the same, as evidenced by their presence at the conference.

He said: “The founding fathers of the AIO had a very thoughtful foresight by making sure we have this forum that has over these years had achieved tremendous success in harmonising the African insurance markets and bringing together experts of different insurance faculties annually to discuss burning issues affecting the continent and the rest of the world. I believe the outcome of all our deliberations in the last few days will go a long way in helping us thrive higher in achieving our goals and objectives”.

While congratulating Smart, the Commissioner said: “I want to say to the incoming President that the journey ahead may not be all smooth especially due to aftermath effect of the COVID19 pandemic and the shapes of our economies across Africa presently. There is huge task ahead of you and your team, but working with you over the years gives me high confidence that you are equal to the task and I can vouch for your hard work, resilience, foresight and determination.

“I am sure we are all going to be proud of your tenure in the AIO. We will give the organisation necessary support it requires as we have always done and in return, we expect that Nigeria as a member is going to reap all benefits of its membership in the organisation in line with the new strategic objectives of the AIO. It is worthy to say that the African insurance market is in dare need of serious collaboration and synergy now than in other time in the past as we rightly agreed here that we must look inward if truly we want to make an impact. Time has passed that we rely on foreign or international support from the west and other super powers as the world at large is overwhelmed by so many issues.

Thomas further stated that developing the insurance markets across Africa is no longer a choice but a necessity.

“Not only in Nigeria that there is huge growth potential in insurance but is over Africa that we can unite and develop insurance business there is a lot our governments will get economically. The signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has provided an avenue to foster unity and integration within the Africa region. It provides an avenue for achievement of a common market for goods and services; guaranteeing free movement of human resources, investment and technology.

“But let me charge the new leadership of the AIO to cap it by vigorously persuade the governments across the continent to play their roles in providing the necessary support, creating an enabling environment for insurance activities to flourish, continued lifting of border barriers making movement of resources almost impossible, promote healthy competitions amongst member states and promoting knowledge sharing across the continent among other objectives that will make insurance business thrive within the African markets.

He also charged the new leadership that by the year 2022 the AIO will celebrate its Golden Jubilee (50 years) being established in 1972 which means he can also write his achievements in gold for coming on board at this critical time.

“We expect to see great stride and landmark achievements when your tenure is over and the baton will change hands. I pledge the support of the Nigerian insurance industry to your success as President of the AIO”, he added.

The Commissioner of Insurance, Pension and Provident Funds Insurance and Pensions Commission, Zimbabwe, Grace Muradzikwa while presenting a paper on, “Regulation, Innovation and the Future of Insurance” at the Conference sought collaboration with other regulators across the continent.

Highlighting in-country and across jurisdictions, she maintained that the lowering of barriers has highlighted the interconnectedness of markets and the need for Regulators to collaborate and eliminate regulatory arbitrage.

In Zimbabwe, she said, they now have the Smart Regulators Forum where regulators meet to discuss cross cutting issues.

Speaking on data protection and privacy, she said: “Regulators are concerned about how insurers are managing potential customer risks related to data sharing with third parties, therefore, developing data protection frameworks and collaborating with data protection agencies.

“On new sources of growth, one of the things I was taught when I joined the Insurance industry many years ago was that there is a strong positive correlation between insurance growth and economic growth though the causality relationship can be bi-directional. It is a chick and egg relationship. There is a lot of empirical evidence on the nexus between economic development and the development of the insurance industry. In my view, it is for this reason that insurers must not only take an interest in the economic growth drivers but be agents of economic growth. This is the only way that insurance will contribute towards the rebuilding of the continent.

“The world is now a global village, and very soon the AfCFTA will result in removing physical trade borders on the continent. It is coming and we must plan for enhanced cross border trade in insurance services, which is certainly expanding its scope beyond reinsurance as the only traditional cross border product”, she noted.

The newly sworn-in President of the AIO, Smart who is also the Managing Director of NEM Insurance Plc in his acceptance speech said his one year in office will focus on five major objectives targeted at repositioning the African insurance market.

He listed these areas to include increased awareness; adoption of digitalisation; collaboration with other markets; partnership with government and regulators and building customer’s trust.

According to him, the insurance industry in Africa has underperformed compared to other sectors such as banking, telecommunication, and vowed to change the narrative.

While bemoaning the low performance of the African insurance market, he stated that aside South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana, no other African country has been able to grow penetration to one per cent and called on all AIO members to work hard to ensure the situation changed for the better.

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