The Federal Government has observed with concerns the parlous state of insurance in the whole of Africa which it said has been characterized by low penetration and poor contribution to most African countries financial growth.
Addressing the 2023 edition of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA), conference which began in Lagos on Monday, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, therefore challenged industry heads to rise to the challenge and be innovative so as to maintain efficient, fair, safe and stable insurance market in the West African sub region for the benefit of the policyholders and other stakeholders.
While applauding the gathering of delegates from the West African Sub Region and beyond to the West African Insurance Companies Association Educational Conference 2023 and celebration of its 50th Anniversary, Ahmed, recalled that in the year 1973, the founding fathers created the WAICA, with the purpose of improving the image of the insurance industry in West Africa, whilst assisting in establishing an enabling environment for industries and economies by promoting cooperation in every respect amongst all the insurers and reinsurers companies operating in its sub-region.
She noted that in modern business environment, disruption plays an integral part of any business, thus the 2023 WAICA Educational Conference choice of theme: “Repositioning the Insurance Industry in West Africa for Global Competitiveness” could not have been more propitious.
This she said is because the overarching objective behind the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to accelerate intra-African trade by providing a single market for goods and services, facilitate movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration and prosperity on the Continent as well as boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
This is in addition to the urgent need to establish high quality insurance database to provide a holistic view of the industry’s operations in the sub-region and the need for WAICA members to leverage technology and other alternative distribution channels in order to increase market penetration and the importance of enhancing multilateral cooperation with the objective of promoting international standards in fostering favourable investment environments and orderly markets in the West African sub region and beyond.
The Minister stated that the insurance industry, like other components of the financial system, is changing in response to a wide range of global social and economic forces, adding, “In particular, insurance and insurance-linked financial activities are increasingly crossing national and sectorial boundaries. Consequently, it has become imperative for the Insurance supervisory systems and practices to continually upgrade in order to cope with these developments to mitigate possible financial and systemic stability concerns arising from the insurance sector as they emerge.”
Speaking further she said, “At this juncture, I am pleased with the not so recent stride so far achieved by the West African Insurance Supervisors Association (WAISA) with regards the establishment of the College of Insurance Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone (CISWAMZ) in February, 2022.
The college is saddled with the objectives of strengthening cross border insurance supervision through, Creation of an enabling environment via synergies for the insurance sector to flourish; Harmonization of regulatory standards and Increasing operation of cross border network by branches and/or offshore subsidiaries in the insurance sector.
The College’s other responsibilities include, Enhancing solo supervision of insurance entities by the competent authorities; Facilitating group wide supervision and Minimizing fraudulent activities in the insurance sector in accordance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) principles on Anti-Money laundering amongst others.
The Minister said that as an optimist, Government is encouraged to believe in a new dawn, leveraging technological innovations, and a positive paradigm shift focused and poised to meet the anticipated surge in the demand and untapped side.
“I therefore urge the delegates here present to deliberate and recommend ways of repositioning the insurance industry in West Africa for Global Competitiveness.
Finally, I wish to congratulate all WAICA delegates on the occasion of the Association’s 50th Anniversary (Golden Jubilee) and hereby formally declare this years’ conference open.” she concluded.