The President of African Insurers Association (AIO) and Group Managing Director/CEO, NEM Insurance Plc. Tope Smart, In this interview with Chuks Udo Okonta, said he has started implementation of his agenda by addressing the issue of consumer trust, which he considers a major barrier to the growth of insurance in Africa.
In your set agenda, which of them have you begin to push since the conference ended?
As you are no doubt aware, I set out a 5-point agenda to be achieved during my presidency. I have started with the issue of consumer trust. This is s major barrier to the growth of insurance in Africa. Meeting up claim obligations by operators as and when due will address this issue.
How are you leveraging the supports you got at the investiture to drive insurance growth across Africa?
Let me use this opportunity to thank everyone for the massive support I got during the investiture. The support is a vote of confidence in my ability and capability and I will leverage this to achieve the drive towards insurance growth across Africa.
As AIO President, how would you help to facilitate the implementation of the outcome of deliberations on AFCFTA across member countries?
The African Insurance Organisation (AIO) is like a microcosm of AFCTA, as it were. Don’t forget that one of the cardinal objectives of AIO is to promote inter-African corporation in insurance business. So, with AFCTA, the removal of trade barriers will lead to increase in intra-African trade and this will lead to increase in demand for insurance across Africa. My responsibility is to engage all the stakeholders in the insurance sector in Africa to take advantage of this initiative so as to grow the sector.
What is your take home from the just concluded conference?
To the glory of God, the conference was a huge success by any standard. First, we had the privilege of having in attendance the nation’s number one and number two citizens.
The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari declared the conference open. Also, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo, was present at the closing gala dinner. The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed as well as the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunnrin Rotimi Akeredolu were also there among other dignitaries. This no doubt is a big statement from the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
Also, despite COVID-19, we had representatives from 44 countries that were physically present.
In addition, the quality of the papers that were presented was extraordinary. To crown it all, the programme went smoothly without any hitch whatsoever to the glory of God.
I interacted with many of the delegates during the programme and I have equally spoken to many after they arrived their various destinations and the consensus was that this conference remains one of the best.
How will AIO improve on cross boarder collaboration on insurance businesses?
This is part of my agenda. I will encourage markets across the region to share information and experience among one another. Such information can be very useful and the receiving markets can use them to further advance the growth of insurance in their domain.
Low penetration has been a major issue across africa, how do you intend to change this story?
The 5-point agenda of my administration, if well pursued are to achieve one thing, and that is to increase the rate of insurance penetration across Africa.
Your administration has just nine months to implement your lofty agendas. Are you sure you can realise all your promises before the next AIO in Kenya?
By the grace of God, I shall work towards the achievement of the agenda. In any case, wherever I stop, having laid a good foundation, I will expect my successor to continue from there in the interest of insurance sector in Africa.
How elated are you, as a Nigerian, to have your Investiture as AIO President in Nigeria?
I am very excited about this because in the first place, it is a big honour for Nigeria. The last time a Nigerian occupied this position was about 21years ago.
With this position, there is an assurance that Nigerian flag will be flown at the very top level at least, for the next one year.
Secondly, this new position presents me with an opportunity to come up with some initiatives that will change the narrative about the practice of insurance across Africa. It presents an opportunity to correct some negative conversations around insurance practice in Africa.