We are living in tough and unpredictable times, and the arrival of the novel COVID-19 virus at the beginning of 2020 has not helped things. It is no secret that this pandemic has caused major disruptions in the global economy, widely impacting both the business and investor community. It has quickly changed the way we run our lives, forever.
ZEP-RE has over the last 25 years been at the forefront of fostering the development of the insurance and reinsurance industry in the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) as enshrined in Article 4 of the company’s Establishment Agreement. We have also intensively engaged in the provision of support for sub-economic development in the region and within the markets where we operate, as part of our value proposition.
As a premier reinsurer in Africa, some of the key activities that we have immersed ourselves in include CEO forums and the most recent forum for all Heads of Regulatory Institutions within the East African region. These also form part of our core functions by virtue of Article 5 of the Establishment Agreement. The intention here is to further our co-operation with institutions that are engaged in the development of the insurance and reinsurance industry within Africa.
With the continued growth and evolution of our industry within the domestic, regional and global realm, we continue to strongly consider the engagement of Regulators as fundamental to spurring growth in insurance & reinsurance markets. This offers an opportunity for experience-sharing and deepens insights as to further development of insurance and reinsurance markets within Africa.
ZEP-RE is a firm believer that there is strength in numbers and the notion that we learn more and quicker together. The pandemic has emphasized the critical role of private-public-partnerships in the (re)insurance sector.
It is against this backdrop that ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company), the ZEP-RE Academy, in conjunction with the East African Insurance Supervisors (EAISA) came together to host the 2nd Annual Regulators’ Forum. The well-attended forum was delivered virtually in two modular sessions: 1st & 2nd September and 8th & 9th September 2020 under the theme “Building resilient and sustainable reinsurance markets” and was supported by Speakers from AON and University of Nairobi
The agenda included a review of the 5-year performance of the insurance and reinsurance markets in East Africa, rating agencies’ response during times of crisis, market options for COVID-19 cover and insurance and social inclusion, with technology as an enabler. We are proud to be involved in setting the pace for East Africa, with the hope that eventually all the players in the industry will be reading from one script in all aspects, including actuarial pricing, underwriting risks, rating, training, etc.
Alhaj Kaddunabbi Ibrahim Lubega, Chairman EAISA & CEO of Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda, together with Mr. Godfrey Kiptum, Commissioner and CEO, Insurance Regulatory Authority of Kenya , Dr. Mussa C. Juma, Commissioner of Insurance, Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority and Mr. Dilme Drimas NIYONIZEYE Acting Director, Insurance and Pension Supervision, Rwanda engaged in key discussions in ensuring that a resilient and vibrant sector is maintained amidst these uncertain times. Mr. Innocent Niyukuri, Secretary General ad Interim, Insurance Regulatory and Control Agency (ARCA) of Burundi was not left behind either, as he clearly articulated his experiences and proposals for a vibrant East African insurance sector.
The ZEP-RE management, led by the CEO, Ms Hope Murera was fully represented at the forum, where all present agreed that the industry needs to embrace digital transformation to remain relevant, particularly in view of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is need to leverage technology to chart a more sustainable path forward, they agreed unanimously.
Financial inclusion was a key highlight, with ZEP-RE championing the drive to embrace technology in providing inclusive insurance solutions to drive up penetration in Africa, which remains low, estimated at 2-3% on average. The need for government subsidies to promote financial inclusion was highlighted by the hosts.
Increased investment and focus on agricultural insurance pertinently stood out as an opportunity to strengthen financial inclusion in the industry, as was expressed in a presentation from ZEP-RE subsidiary, Acre Africa represented by the CEO, Mr. George Kuria.
Speaking at the forum, the guest speaker and University of Nairobi don, Professor Bitange Ndemo, challenged the regulators to embrace and make the most use of the available data collection and analysis tools to deepen their understanding of the markets. Prof Ndemo underscored the need for the industry to work with the 4th Industrial Revolution trajectory in mind, since Africa stands to gain from Africa-wide data and the internet of things to gather material information in real time. Demographic data such as income, poverty and population levels relative to SDG targets can be harnessed to develop appropriate insurance solutions, he opined.
The resolutions made at the forum will ensure that we all work together as a region to formulate our own rules and regulations to work with. We shall speak with one voice and implement the recommendations in such a way that the same can be replicated in the rest of the COMESA region and the other parts of the continent.