Investment Opportunities in Insurance Sector
As delegates from within and outside Africa converge in Lagos this weekend for the 47th African Insurance Organisation (AIO) Conference, Ebere Nwoji looks at the opportunities Nigeria stands to derive from hosting the conference
The African Insurance Organisation (AIO), in search of ways of meeting its two main objectives of developing a healthy insurance and reinsurance industry across the African region and promoting interAfrican cooperation in insurance business, has found a solace in its annual AIO Conference and General Assembly.
The organisation, this year, chose Nigeria as the venue of its forth coming 47th edition of the conference scheduled between September 4th to 8th, 2021 at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Industry analysts said the conference will present a vintage platform to showcase the immense opportunities in the Nigerian insurance sector to the world for investment and business partnerships.
The AIO has through the previous editions of the conference championed the cause of promoting inter African cooperation and developing a healthy insurance industry since its inception in 1972.
The AIO authorities said the Annual Conference and General Assembly would bring together global insurance professionals to discuss relevant topics and enhance good business practices in the insurance industry.
In addition, the conference would provide the delegates the opportunity to exchange ideas and network, with exhibitions and tourism as part of the package.
The main target is to promote foreign direct investments and solve the inherent problem of low insurance penetration in most countries on the continent and match global competition.
Industry observers said with current choice of Nigeria as the venue of the conference this year, the regional body is no doubt focused on lifting Nigeria from the current poor position of ranking least among other countries of Africa in terms of insurance penetration, premium generation and contribution to the GDP of the country.
The latest Sigma report from Swiss Reinsurance ranks Nigeria fifth among nine insurance markets in Africa in terms of premiums in 2020 but came last in terms of insurance penetration.
Insurance penetration in Nigeria is at 0.5 percent while contribution to the GDP is abysmal. According to analysts, this falls much below global emerging market average insurance penetration which is currently over 2.7% while Africa’s share of the global insurance market is over 1.1% for non-life and 1.8% for life, a demonstration of the enormous growth potential within the African insurance industry, and an indicator that the insurance market is still widely untapped.
Through the annual conference, AIO said it does not only strive to lift various member countries up from their abysmal performance in terms of low penetration and poor contribution to their economies, but also connects with the outside world whom it also attracts to the conference for cross fertilisation of ideas and bilateral relationships.
As Nigeria sets to receive participants from African and non African countries already trooping into the country for the conference, insurers are optimistic that hosting the conference at this time will be beneficial to the insurance sector and the economy in general.
With the theme “Rebuilding Africa’s Economy: An Insurance Perspective,” insurers said their target is to portray the promising future of Nigeria and Africa to the world, intending to build the confidence of foreign investors and promote the continent’s strength in respect to its human and natural resources.
The Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association, (NIA), Mr Ganiyu Musa, speaking at a press briefing to announce the conference, said beside showcasing the Nigeria insurance industry to the outside world, hosting the conference will have multiplier effect around other service providers in the country.
He said aside the theme of the conference, four other subtopics regarding contemporary issues affecting the insurance industry will be discussed.
These, according to him, include Harnessing the Potential for Growth and Development in the Nigerian Insurance Market; AfCFTA and the African Insurer: Prospects and Opportunities.
According to Musa, several other subsectors like the support services and the hospitality industry will also be featured at the conference.
The NIA Chairman said Nigeria stands to gain a lot as visitors are already booking hotels, which will boost the country’s hospitality industry and economy.
Also speaking, the incoming AIO President, Mr Tope Smart, who is also the Managing Director of NEM Insurance Plc and immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Insurers Association, said the conference, will be attended by 48 member countries of AIO and 10 non-African countries.
He said his target as the incoming president of the regional organisation and target of the local organising committee is to create awareness among people that Nigeria is a good country with good people; that Nigeria is hospitable; that the country has a very rich cultural heritage.
“We want to use the event to make people who are coming to see that Nigeria is a peaceful country as against their negative perceptions about Nigeria”, Smart said.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mr. Olorundare Sunday Thomas, including other key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy are expected to be at the AIO event.
“We have invited all the key stakeholders in Nigeria. We have invited the President of the country. We have invited the Minister of Finance who supervises the finance sector. We have invited the Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Commission” (NAICOM).
At a virtual press briefing to this effect, the Chairman, Local Organising Committee of theconference (LOC), Mrs Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu, said the conference will enable Nigeria insurers have bilateral discussions with their counterparts from other African
countries and beyond.
She said the conference would showcase Nigerian culture and attract patronage and opportunities for different businesses in the country.
She said among those that would benefit immensely from the conference were those into hospitality business, IT business operators among others.
She said because of the impact of the COVID 19, the conference has been planned to accommodate only 600 physical participants while others will participate virtually.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 pandemic had left in its trail very debilitating effects on many economies and there are efforts at addressing these challenges.
According to her, this informed the decision of the LOC to use the opportunity of the 47th AIO conference to contribute to discussions around how insurance can contribute to ongoing efforts at rebuilding economies seriously impacted by the pandemic.
According to the LOC Chairman, the committee is working in cohort with the AIO Secretariat and has assembled a strong faculty to deliver the different papers from the main conference theme to the sub-topics.
She said the resource persons include Jakkie Cilliers of the Institute of Security Studies, South Africa; Belhassen Tanat of Munich Re.; Yinka Sanni of Standard Bank Group and Tawiah Ben-Ahmed of Metropolitan Life Insurance, Ghana.
She maintained that the AIO conference will also include the Life Seminar and all related activities, stressing that the hosting of the conference is significant to insurers.
“Apart from the opportunity to showcase our rich culture and hospitality, it will also be a great opportunity to correct some of the misconceptions about Nigeria and her people,” she added.
She said the hybrid event, is expected to attract dignitaries from government circle, insurance sector; foreign and local investment world; Information and Communication Technology (ICT); media amongst others.
The 46th edition of the conference was held at Johannesburg, South Africa between June 9th to 12th, 2019 and had the theme Insurance Penetration in Africa: Insuring the Uninsured.”
Ghana hosted the 45th edition at the Labadi Beach Hotel Accra with the theme Innovation, Risk, and Future of Insurance in Emerging Markets” between May 6th to 9th 2018 .
According to AIO Authorities, the 45th edition witnessed the highest number of participants with over 1,100 delegates in attendance.
The 44th edition was held in Kampala, Uganda between May 21, and 24th 2014,with the theme “Furthering the Financial Inclusion Agenda of African Nations through Insurance”
With these various editions of the conference and their themes, the AIO has been making efforts to ensure steady and consolidated growth of the regional insurance sector.
In industry observers said with this 47th edition and its theme, the organisation is set to fill up the port holes and obstacles created by the COVID19 pandemic to the insurance sector and the economy in general.