Insurance companies in the West African Sub-Region have been urged to harmonise their laws, share businesses for growth of institutions and economy.
Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Nigeria, gave the advice Monday in Lagos at the opening ceremony of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) Educational Conference 2023 and celebration of 50th anniversary hosted by Nigeria.
She said there is need to harmonise the different countries’ regulations and share business emanating from the local market before ceding to Europe and America, if the objective of repositioning the industry for economic growth of the sub-region is to be achieved.
The Minister who was represented by Sunday Thomas, the commissioner for Insurance/CEO, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) also emphasised on product harmonisation, human capital development, technology adoption and collaboration as drivers of growth for the sub-region.
Ahmed in her keynote address son the theme: “Repositioning the Insurance Industry in West Africa for Global Competitiveness”, said this is important at this time given the overarching objective behind the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
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.
She said the theme again is important because of the need to establish high quality insurance database to provide a holistic view of the industry’s operations in the sub-region
“The need for WAICA members to leverage technology and other alternative distribution channels in order to increase market penetration;
“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.”
She said the insurance industry, like other components of the financial system, is changing in response to a wide range of global social and economic forces.
“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, the minister said.
While lamenting the state of insurance in West Africa, she said insurance in the whole of Africa has been characterized by low penetration and poor contribution to most African countries financial growth.
She said, therefore maintaining efficient, fair, safe and stable insurance market in the West African sub region must be promoted for the benefit of the policyholders and other stakeholders.
“As an optimist, we are 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, she advised.