Insurance operators across West Africa have been advised to leverage the political structure of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) to rethink the historical colonial partitions in order for them to achieve real integration.
The advice was given by the Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, at the 2017 Yearly Insurance Conference of the West Africa Insurance Companies Association (WAICA), in Banjul, the Gambia, in a paper entitled: Achieving Regional Integration in the Insurance Industry in West Africa through Uniform Regional Compliance.
Kari said the issue of regional integration has remained in the front burner of virtually all WAICA conferences, stressing that insurers need to accept that they cannot achieve much by themselves as an industry.
He also charged them on the need to think beyond the historical colonial partitions and integrate WAICA, without which it would be hard to achieve regional integration. He identified different laws and regulations of the jurisdiction, insecurity, inadequate capacity of supervisory authorities; political, government, and industry interferences among others as hindrances to achieving regional integration.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwaobia, stressed the need for continued collaboration, to achieve a more stable international economic and financial system.
She said: “It is heartening to see that the West African Insurance Regulators have recognised the need to come together to examine possible ways to collaborate and develop harmonised regulatory standards.
“The West African Insurance Supervisors Association is therefore vital, because of our rapidly integrating insurance industry and the growing practice of our insurance companies operating across regional and international boundaries.”
Daniel-Nwaobia, who was represented by the Director, Home Finance in the ministry, Kalli Zaji, assured member countries of Nigeria’s support toward achieving the set objectives. Commissioner of Insurance, Ghana, Lydia Bawa, charged all member countries to strive to ensure that the objectives set out in the collaboration are achieved.
She said: “The timely provision of the information on the financial position, compliance with the rules on solvency, risk concentration and intra-group transactions among other things, would facilitate group-wide supervision.
“Individually all regulatory authorities will save time and cost and avoid duplication of efforts in achieving our respective supervisory goals, thereby channelling resources to other areas.”
Bawa said that the Gambia, and Liberia had not gained autonomy from their respective central banks, and called on the countries to use the opportunity provided by the MoU to be independent of their central banks.
“We believe that when this autonomy is granted, it will lead to an effective execution of their supervisory mandates.”She urged the members to be mindful of their individual and collective weaknesses, to offer the necessary assistance required to achieve the expected goals.
The Commissioner of Insurance, Sierra-Leone, Augustus Kanu, in his address, expressed joy at the collaboration and assured of his country’s commitment towards achieving the set objectives.
He commended the efforts by NAICOM towards ensuring the growth and development of the insurance industry in Sierra-Leone.