Professor Saye D. Gbalazeh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Activa International Insurance Company Liberia Limited, has been installed as the 38th President of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) for the period of one year.
WAICA is an international association of insurance companies and institutions, founded in 1973 by five English speaking countries within the West African sub-region, which includes, Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana with approval of their respective governments.
Prof. Gbalazeh, who is an accomplished insurance professional, was sworn in office on Friday, August 19, 2021, by Judge Ousman Feika, Resident Judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Grand Cape Mount County, currently assigned at Criminal Court ‘C’, proxy on behalf of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, Francis S. Korkpor.
The insurance expert and a career insurance executive with over 25 years of proven experience in the industry both in the United States, and Africa took over the mantle of leadership from Mr. Raymond H.S. Macauley, Managing Director of Aureol Insurance Company in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Prof. Gbalazeh is also the president of the Liberia Insurance Association (LIA) and Assistant Professor of Law at the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law of the University of Liberia.
In his acceptance speech, Prof. Gbalazeh lauded his colleagues for the confidence reposed in him, noting that he will do his best to serve well by promoting the image of WAICA and expanding the regional insurance market.
“I am humbled and honored to be inducted into office as the 38th president of WAICA. Today’s induction and the oath office we have taken evoke a deep sense of responsibility. We have sworn and, more importantly, committed to providing leadership in consultation with member countries, companies, and the governing council to pursue far-reaching solutions to our industry’s intractable regional and local challenges,” he said.
Prof. Gbalazeh informed his colleagues at a well-attended ceremony and also virtual that he is hopeful of a brighter future for the regional industry stressing that they are determined to collectively navigate their path to find lasting and practical solutions as a regional association through strategic and thoughtful leadership.
“We take the responsibility of stewardship seriously. As such, we solemnly promise to uphold the dignity and confidence you have reposed in us to lead WAICA for the following year,” he said.
He further told prominent WAICA family, despite the covid-19 pandemic’s global and regional threats, he will continue in his predecessors’ footstep building upon their solid foundation in fostering the WAICA core of objective, including developing and encouraging the insurance market in each member country on sound technical basis; promote cooperation in every respect among all the insurers and reinsurers, among others.
At the same time, the new WAICA president expressed gratitude to Mr. Richard Lowe, Group Chairman, and the Activa International Group, for creating the platform which he stands on today as CEO of Activa International, Liberia, that prequalified him to serve as president of WAICA.
The event, which was also witnessed via Zoom by other member countries, was well attended by Liberians including representatives from the Ministry of Transport, Commerce, Liberia Bankers Association, Chamber of Commerce, Liberia National Bar Association and other family members, respectively.
Earlier, keynote speaker, Deputy Governor for Economic Policy at the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Musa Dukuly, standing proxy for his boss, Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue, encouraged Prof. Gbalazeh and his co-officers to exhibit transparency, avoid divisiveness, remain adherent to the manifesto of WAICA for the revolution to succeed.
He admonished them that the contribution of each player in the insurance sector has a strong synergy relative to the viability and effectiveness of WAICA—so what that means is that individually “if we can make our contribution current that will support WAICA’s objective and by extension the objective of moving the region towards integration.”
“So I therefore, take this opportunity on behalf of the Executive Governor of the CBL, J. Aloysius Tarlue, Jr. to therefore encouraged every one of you not only to drive the revolution in support of the CBL role to achieve the establishment of the commission within five years but also to exert conscious efforts in support of this new leadership of WAICA to showcase the sector in all the economic fabric of this country.
Prior to the induction ceremony, Judge Feika highlighted a few things, which he firmly believed are sacrosanct (holy) to the insurance industry in Liberia.
He said in order to improve the insurance industry, experts must thrive to expand its activities across the region and Liberia at large to include those who are doubtful of its operation.
When that is done, according to Judge Feika, it will effectively alleviate mistrust in the public about insurance companies.
He noted that in Liberia, some insurance companies are regarded as non-performers indicating that premiums are collected but they reneged on paying benefits when there is claim for settlement.
“So WAICA needs to improve this situation if the industry must thrive in Liberia and expand its activities to include those who are doubtful of its operations, thereby effectively alleviating mistrust in the public against insurance companies,” Judge Feika said.
According to him, the purpose of insurance, whether it is life, accident, or medical, is to reduce financial uncertainty and accident loss to the insured, thereby shifting the same to the insurance company.
He observed that delay tactics and all sorts of shenanigans are implored by some insurance companies with the sole objective to frustrate settlement of insurance claims, a situation which has given rise to mistrust from the public, hence the label non-performers
“So, Mr. Saye D. Gbalazeh, as you are installed today as President of WAICA for the next one year, let me, on behalf of Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. admonish you to be vigilant and thorough in ensuring that non-performing companies in the industry are encouraged to enhance or improve their relationship with individuals and institutions who are insured with them, that is to say, making and earnest effort to settle legitimate claims in an expedited and -timely manner. The issue of trust in any business transactions is very important for the survival of the business itself,” he said.