By Bankole Orimisan
Stakeholders across the West African sub-region have called on insurance regulators to lobby governments in their various countries for the passage and implementation of regulations that would increase market penetration. The stakeholders, who spoke at the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) 50th Anniversary and Conference in Lagos, said such a move would provide an enabling environment for underwriters to strategically engage the public to use insurance as means for disaster and risk mitigation. They also advised both local and foreign investors who desire to set up in other countries to tweak their operational models to accommodate the socio-cultural and economic conditions of the new market to make quicker in-road.
Speaking at the conference, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Life Ghana, Jacqueline Benyi, charged the insurance industry’s regulators across the sub-region to be supportive, and called for regulatory synergies within countries in West Africa to ensure that the transnational operation process is seamless. Benyi explained that transnational insurance business across Africa was critical, noting that such a move would also create employment and wealth, improve market competitiveness on a global level and enhance corporate governance and innovations that drive business growth.
Charging operators to make the sub-region an insurance powerhouse in Africa, she called on industry players to emulate Ecobank, Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), which have effectively made their imprints across Africa and beyond to improve transnational competitiveness in the banking sector.
Out of 131 underwriters in the sub-region, she said, only 11 companies have grown out of it. Speaking on ‘Positioning Insurance Companies in West Africa for Transnational Competitiveness,’ the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Continental Reinsurance Corporation, Lawrence Nazare, listed significant barriers in premium taxes that are making the reinsurance business unattractive despite African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). For Nazare, Africa is a place of opportunities, when things are done well and right, advising underwriting companies to be aggressive in their market expansion drive while cautioning that that must be done within the existing regulatory framework.
Also the Regional Executive, Anglophone, West African region, Ecobank Group, Accra, Ghana, Daniel Sackey encouraged underwriters across the sub-region to utilize the abundant talents in the sub-region, take advantage of the population dynamics, while adapting to local dynamics in whatever countries they want to operate in West Africa to survive and succeed in their business, saying, “you need to think local and act global for global competitiveness.”