SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN INSURANCE ORGANISATION, Mr. TOPE SMART, AT THE OPENING OF THE 25TH AFRICAN REINSURANCE FORUM FROM THE 27H NOVEMBER TO 1ST DECEMBER 2021 IN KIGALI, RWANDA.
The Honourable Minister of Finance,
Honourable Ministers and Members of Government
The Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Executive Committee Members of the AIO
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the African Insurance Organisation, I wish to heartily welcome you all to the 25th African Reinsurance Forum holding here in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda, the “land of a thousand hills”. The record hospitality of Rwanda makes it always a memorable moment being here. The last time the AIO members converged here in Rwanda was in 2014 for their Annual Conference and General Assembly.
The AIO will like to use this opportunity to thank the Government and people of Rwanda, for accepting to host our 25th African Reinsurance Forum in the heart of very challenging times. This event could not hold last year due to the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty even followed us into 2021 but we are happy the government of Rwanda gave us this opportunity to showcase another of our flagship events.
Just two months back, the AIO brought together African Insurance professionals at its 47th Annual Conference which took place in Lagos, Nigeria to reflect on Rebuilding Africa’s Economy: An Insurance perspective.
One of the instruments of ensuring a healthy, resilient, and robust economy for Africa no doubts remains the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
After deep reflection, the AIO Secretariat thought it wise that we incorporate insurance integration into this agreement. This is why during this 25th African Reinsurance Forum, discussions will centre around the theme INSURANCE INTEGRATION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA.
The African Insurance Organisation is happy to return to the birthplace of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Kigali, to examine not only how the insurance sector can best integrate into the AfCFTA, but to also provide a conducive venue for the cream of the African insurance industry to reflect on the way forward.
Through this event, the AIO further wishes to highlight the contribution of the African insurance industry to the realisation of this lofty idea, whose benefits to the entire African continent cannot be overemphasized.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion according to the African Union. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.
In concrete terms, the AfCFTA emphasizes the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and the facilitation of free movement of people and labor, capital, right of residence, right of establishment and investment.
Hon Minister of Finance,
Ladies and gentlemen,
In September this year, the Africa Insurance Pulse, a research publication of the AIO, carried out an extensive study on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
In the findings, insurance executives interviewed hope that in the long term the successful implementation of AfCFTA will benefit all markets. In the short to medium term, however, they expect that the large markets such as South Africa, Morocco, and Kenya will benefit most. When asked which insurance players will be the «winners», the clear answer with 46% is the African regional insurance/reinsurance players such as Africa Re, CICA Re, Sanlam and Santam. According to the executives, they have a better starting position than all other players because they already have a well-established and tested distribution network across several countries, which will be reinforced with the single market approach.
Insurance and reinsurance players that participated in the survey were optimistic about their future in the context of the AfCFTA. 75% do not believe the single market will become a threat to their business. Many reinsurers and global and regional insurers confirmed that they already operate under the logic of a single market. Many believe that the insurance pie will grow with the single market, facilitating the expansion beyond their current reach of active markets. Reinsurers that are active primarily in one or a few markets see this as a unique opportunity to diversify their risk portfolio. To get prepared, two-thirds of interview partners stated that they already reflected the impact of AfCFTA into their strategic planning, while the remaining group is waiting to gain more information on the impact of the free trade on them.
Hon. Minister of Finance,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The AIO’s goal for setting up the reinsurance forum is to encourage the exchange of business through bilateral contacts and discussions which fall in line with the organisation’s objective of promoting inter-African cooperation and the development of a healthy insurance and reinsurance industry in Africa. Since the inception of the Reinsurance Forum, there has been a lot of exchange of business among African industry practitioners but there is still much room for further deepening of the business exchanges.
This 25th Reinsurance Forum gives us another golden opportunity to examine some of our inherent challenges facing the African insurance industry, let us use it and do an objective dissection of the theme INSURANCE INTEGRATION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA.
One of Africa’s visionary leaders, His Excellency President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda once said “In Africa today, we recognise that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development.” The AfCFTA agreement, to me, is that golden opportunity to make this a reality.
We would like to thank all our sponsors for accepting to associate their images to our event. I’ll like to give honour to whom it is deserved by solemnly thanking the managements of Africa Re, NEM Insurance Plc Nigeria, Sanlam Emerging Markets South Africa, TAN RE Tanzania, National Bank of Rwanda, Namib Re Namibia, ZEP RE Kenya, Tunis Re Tunisia, Continental Re Nigeria, Ghana Re, GN Reinsurance Ghana, SGC Re Gabon, AM Best, Zambia Reinsurance Plc and AXA Assistance. We wish to announce solemnly here that the AIO will be 50 years old next year, and our next host, the Kenya market is working with the AIO Secretariat to make the celebration a memorable one. Our Organisation needs your support to make the event great.
The quality of speakers in this forum leaves me very confident that at the end of this event, we shall be on the right side of history as solution providers for the African insurance industry.
We would like to thank them for taking time off their busy schedules to lead the reflections at this event. I’ll like to recognise them here:
Dr. Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director and CEO of Africa Re, Mr. Nicolas Moinier, Regional Director of Willis Re, Mr. Lesley Ndlovu, CEO of Africa Risk Capacity, Mr. Emmanuel Brulé, CEO of Sanlam Pan Africa General Insurance, Mr. Souvik Banerjea, Managing Director of Continental Re Kenya, Mrs. Davinah Milenge Uwella, Principal Programme Coordinator, Climate Change and Green Growth Department at the African Development Bank, Mr. Cassim Hansa, Group Head – Underwriting and Claims, Continental Re, Mr. Jean Aymar Sahe, Head of Non-Property Business, Munich Reinsurance Company of Africa Limited and Ms. Beatrice Chaytor, Senior Expert, Trade in Services at the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Our words of gratitude go also to the African Development Bank Group and the Secretariat of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), for accepting to be part of this event by providing speakers. We pray that this collaboration continues going forward for the benefit of our beloved African continent.
We can never thank enough the Government and people of Rwanda, the Insurers Association Rwanda, the Rwanda Convention Bureau, the National Bank of Rwanda, the AIO Secretariat and all other stakeholders for this exemplary synergy whose outcome is this wonderful event we are all witnesses to.
Permit me to end with the words of the great pan-Africanist, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “It is clear that we must ﬁnd an African solution to Africa’s problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided, we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.”
Our hosts have labored so hard to make our stay here quite memorable. Do not hesitate to savour Rwanda’s exotic touristic sites as contained in the excursion program. Enjoy Rwanda’s stunning scenery, warm and friendly people as well as its extraordinary biodiversity with incredible wildlife.
I wish you all very successful deliberations.
Thank you for your kind attention.