All the figures that will enamour one to mount on eagles wing to pick up all confidence on the way to another African Insurance Organisation conference and general assembly in Nairobi Kenya, seem short in supply. It is against this backdrop that the new President AIO, Mr. Tope Smart, is marshalling a five point agenda to make the insurance data in Africa chart the course for international recognition as the insurance market to endorse.
The volumes of data released by different resource persons at the concluded conference rehearsed the low insurance penetration save South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana and just a few all at the periphery with South Africa and Morocco settled in as leaders.
Also by the side line pointing to the rolling the challenges roaming the African insurance industry with an indication not to scare, but to observe with readiness to overcome, was the Nigerian Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, alerting Smart “that the journey ahead may not be all smooth especially due to aftermath effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shapes of our economies across Africa presently. There is a huge task ahead of you and your team, but working with you over the years gives me high confidence that you are equal to the task and I can vouch for your hard work, resilience, foresight and determination. I am sure we are all going to be proud of your tenure in the AIO.”
The assertion of Thomas on the capability of the new AIO president was enough steroids for Smart’s confidence to bourgeon and give him the assurance that with the eagle wings the shortcomings notwithstanding, an established five point agenda will make a great impact and certainly complete the grand work for successors to build on.
A determined Smart who is also the group managing director, NEM Insurance Plc, set the solid rock boosters that will lift the Africa market in this order: increased customer awareness, adoption of digitalisation, collaboration among markets, collaboration with governments and regulators and , increased level of consumer trust.
With the big picture of the various dimensions of the market deflating points, he pointed at some of the burst points he hopes to suture. But according to him, they are no means daunting; however, he believes that the stacks of Africa poor insurance performance can be reversed. His comment, “The insurance sector in Africa has underperformed when compared with other sectors such as banking and telecommunication. This anomaly is an irony given the fact that insurance is the bedrock of any economy as it ensures the stability and optimum performance of any organisation.
“It therefore goes without saying that this trend must be reversed and there is need for all stakeholders to work in close collaboration in order to achieve this goal. Though the sector has moved from where it was a few years ago, there is still a lot to be done if we must attain our rightful position in Africa,” he impressed.
Sounding clear that continuity and collaboration should remain the indispensable tools to sustain momentum and, therefore, expecting same to follow after him. Smart makes his commitment to this bare as he received the baton passed on from the past president Delphine Traore of South Africa who he said made “various contributions towards the growth and development of insurance in Africa.
“I promise to build on the foundation you (Traore) have laid and by the grace of God , take this organisation to the next level.” Also appreciating the work of the founding fathers in Mauritius in 1972 up and until the immediate past president, Thomas said the African insurance market “is in dire need of serious collaboration and synergy now than in other time in the past as we rightly agreed here (Lagos) that we must look inward if truly we want to make an impact,” he stated.
Pleased to be part of the new dawn, Thomas rehearsed the phases Africa has come through and then proffers a new direction saying: “Time has passed that we rely on foreign or international support from the west and other super powers as the world at large is overwhelmed by so many issues. Developing the insurance markets across Africa is no longer a choice but a necessity. Not only in Nigeria that there is huge growth potential in insurance but is over Africa that we can unite and develop insurance business, there is a lot our governments will get economically.”
As he screens the challenging data that he is committed to reverse because of the huge potentials for the market in Africa the AIO president said the general assembly of the continent is needed to uptick the insurance market. Taken a cue from current statistics, he said insurance penetration rate in Africa in 2019 was 2.98%, less than half of global average of 7.23%. He sizes up the state of the continent insurance scene. “Though Africa’s GDP increased from $2’36 tr in 2018 to $2.44tr in 2019, total direct premium written decreased from $69.46bn to $68.2bn. Also in 2019, while global premium growth was 3% Africa recorded a negative growth of -3%.
Doubling his commitment to make a mark, he admitted that certain indicators might be dim its not enough not to venture. His note, “aside a few markets such as South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana, no other market in Africa has up to 1% penetration rate. I believe this trend must be reversed,” in a matter of nine months from September 2021 to May 2022 in Nairobi Kenya when the next AIO conference and general assembly is scheduled.