President John Dramani Mahama, has urged insurance companies and institutions in West Africa to seek the welfare of the poor and vulnerable, by expanding their products and services in the sub region.
He stressed the need for players in the insurance industry to strengthen their technical, financial and distribution capacity, thereby making their products and services accessible and affordable to the poor and the informal sector.
President Mahama said this in a speech read on his behalf by a deputy Minister of Finance, Mona Helen Quartey, at the opening ceremony of the 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM), and Education Conference of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) in Accra yesterday.
The two-day AGM was held under the theme, “Africa rising: taking the insurance industry in West Africa to the next level of our development”.
It brought together insurance institutions and companies from five English-speaking countries in West Africa, to deliberate on ways to enhance the growth of the industry in the sub region.
WAICA is a sub-regional association of insurance companies and institutions in English-speaking countries including Nigeria, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana.
President Mahama said the insurance industry should complement government’s efforts in providing social security and social intervention programmes, especially during eventualities.
He observed that insurance penetration in the country is low at two per cent though life insurance has an impressive average growth rate of 30 per cent, which means that the industry needs to do more to enhance the sector.
He said the government is committed to supporting the industry by giving priority to areas such as the review of the current legislation to address various limitations, and to support product development for critical sectors.
President Mahama, therefore, emphasised the need for a strong microfinance insurance saying “in this regard, government will continue to promote the micro insurance and agriculture insurance development,” he said.
The President said the sub region needs more efforts from insurance institutions to drive the agenda of creating a bloc of nations to ensure integration and harmonisation of economies.
He noted that globally, nations formed blocs to leverage on each other’s strength for development and, therefore, called on WAICA to create blocs that would enable the sub region to have an integrated insurance market.
The president of WAICA, Mr. Momoh Fortune, said the Ebola scourge provided the platform for the insurance industry to prepare towards eventualities.
He said micro-finance insurance would serve as a means to mitigate the full effects of such pandemics in society, when given the opportunity to operate under efficient regulatory and supervisory systems.
Mr. Fortune said the continent has become a very high destination for investors and, therefore, the insurance industry should provide the needed insurance to attract investors and sustain businesses on the continent.
The Commissioner of Insurance, Miss Lydia Bawa, reiterated the need for insurance companies and institutions to expand their operations in the sub region.
She said a World Bank report in 2012 titled, “De-fragmenting Africa: deepening regional trade integration in goods and services” has indicated that insurance companies in the West Africa Monetary Zone, were too small and need to recapitalise to underwrite major transactions.
She observed that the insurance industry could do more if insurance companies would implement sound corporate governance and risk management systems, in line with international best practices to deal with the cultural, and behavioural challenges that inhibit the growth of the sector.
By Charles Amankwa