The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the Federal Government would boost the insurance industry’s growth, and attract foreign investors into the country through economic reforms.
This the minister, asserted at the just concluded 2017 National Insurance Conference (NIC) in Abuja, organised by the Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC), tagged: “Nigeria Open for Business.’’
She said insurance is supposed to play a critical role for economic development that would make the economy a level playing ground for foreign investors.
The IICC is an amalgamation of all the constituent arms of the insurance industry, which includes the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA); Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRB); and Institute of Loss Adjusters of Nigeria (ILAN).
The minister said: “There is a high level of ownership of insurable assets in Nigeria, despite the economic situation and we expect that industry reforms will continue to drive investments and new market entries.”
She reiterated that foreign investors have shown great interest in the Nigerian insurance sector by entering into the market, and progress can be seen in the introduction of new insurance products in the growing mortgage and housing sector.
To concentrate on the progress being made so far, she said the Government will also play its role to ensure that government assets are properly insured, adding that only three million out of about 180 million Nigerians possessed insurance policies to protect themselves from uncertainties.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mammud Dutse, noted that insurance is facilitating investments by reducing the amount of capital and savings needed by individuals, corporations and agencies to fight unforeseen losses. “This means that insurance from writing more premiums from millions of Nigerians can provide finance for our long-term economic growth for the country’s recovery.”
According to her, total insurance premiums grew from N75 billion in 2005 to over N300 billion in 2016, and contributed approximately 0.7 per cent to the GDP, noting that the figure was less than the African average of 3.3 per cent and the global average of seven per cent.
The minister, who also decried the challenge of low-level insurance, said the practitioners must be willing to do more to make insurance a giant industry to look up to, adding that distribution channels must be innovative and that new products should be developed to attract the populace.
She argued that to achieve conclusive growth, insurance must be deployed to rural areas. “Deepening insurance penetration to the rural areas must include, improving technical capacity to meet the emerging market trends. The best way to promote insurance is to incorporate both individuals and corporate entities into the insurance market.”
Speaking also, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said the best way to move the industry forward was for the practitioners to accept responsibilities, stressing the need for practitioners to work hard to ensure that many Nigerians are dragged into the insurance net. “The practitioners cannot compare themselves to entertainers,” Enelamah said.
The Commissioner for Insurance, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mohammed Kari, commended the Federal Government for its support to the industry, which he described as the promoter and stabiliser of economic and commercial activities.
He said the Commission has commenced the review of processes, which included timelines and deadlines, adding that the growth of the industry is hindered by unripe products, religious beliefs and wrong perceptions.