By Rukayat Adeyemi
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged Africa Insurance Organisation (AIO) to develop home-grown insurance conglomerates that will compete internationally and enable the continent to harness the opportunities in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
Osinbajo gave the charge in a keynote address he delivered virtually at the Gala Night/Investiture of the 47th President of the AIO on Wednesday in Lagos.
He noted that growth in trade on the African continent would result in greater need for insurance.
“Insurance brokers in particular should expect boom, demand for trade facilitation will rise as companies that already have market value by collaboration will benefit more.
“AfCTA is not just about opening up the market for trading but about opening up for trade in services, in other words, countries will have to welcome service providers in their market,” he said.
The vice president advised insurance companies to take advantage of the AfCTA like their counterparts in the financial institutions, especially the banks, who were already setting up branches across Africa.
Osinbajo also urged the insurance organisations to prepare for the systematic nature of climate induced damage and transition to a low carbon nature.
According to the vice president, climate change will present an opportunity for the insurance industry to assist regulators and our economy with developing risk mitigation strategies.
“The theme of the conference:
Rebuilding Africa’s Economy: An Insurance Perspective, is very important as Africa prepares for the monumental challenges and great opportunities that lie ahead in the next decade or so.
“This will significantly define what Africa will look alike in the next decade which is an indication of how dynamic the economic environment is today and how quickly things will change in few years,” he said.
According to Osinbajo, every smart government, state, company or civil society organisation must be thinking, planning and strategising for the new future.
In his acceptance speech, the new AIO President, Mr Tope Smart, rolled out a five -point agenda that would guide his one-year administration.
Smart said his tenure would focus on increased awareness, adoption of digitalisation, collaboration with other markets, collaboration with government and regulators and building customers’ trust.
He noted that the insurance industry in Africa had underperformed compared to other sectors such as banking, telecommunication and promised to reverse the trend.
The AIO president expressed displeasure on the low performance of the African insurance market, saying aside South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana, no other African country has been able to grow penetration to one per cent.
Smart called on all AIO members to work hard to ensure improved penetration in the market.
He said for the African insurance market to take its rightful place, the five-point agenda listed was critical to the growth of the market and must be taken seriously by all players.
Earlier in his remarks, the Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive Officer of National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mr Olorundare Sunday-Thomas, commended the outgoing President of the AIO, Mrs. Delphine Traore for her contributions to the growth of the African insurance market.
Thomas reminded the new AIO President of the tasks ahead of his team.
“I am confident that you are equal to the task and with you as the President of AIO, there is no doubt that Nigeria will reap the benefit of AIO in line with its strategic agenda,“ he said.
The commissioner urged the AIO president to collaborate with the governments of member-states and persuade them to play their roles well, especially in the promotion of healthy competition and industry-friendly regulations and policies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the AIO Secretariat announced Kenya as the host of the 2022 AIO Conference and Annual General Assembly.
More than 600 local and foreign delegates attended the conference which held between Sept. 4 and Sept. 8, while other members participated virtually. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)