Monday, May 24, 2010

AIO Conference and Genaral Assembly in Banjul

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)- The 37th Conference and General Assembly of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) opens at the Sheraton Hotel and Spa, in Brufut, and will runs from the 24th to 26th May 2010. AIO is the major umbrella body of all insurance operators in the continent. Its membership is made up of insurances, reinsurances, brokers, insurance training institutions and trade associations including supervisory authorities.
The AIO primary objective is of promoting inter- African cooperation and to develop a healthy insurance and re-insurance industry in Africa.
The 2010 meeting is themed "Survival of the African Insurance Industry in the Face of Global Financial Crisis", which according to the organisers is to map out ways in which they can survive in these difficult times and continue to provide services for other businesses as insurance is the foundation on which every other business is built.

The high points of Banjul conference gathered more than 600 members from about 50 countries in Africa and Associate international members from over 5 countries. This is the second time the country is hosting AIO meeting, first was in 1993.
Speaking on behalf of Gambian Leader, Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy told delegates that The Gambia and its people is grateful to the decision of the AIO decision to having meeting on the Gambian soil saying that "we, therefore, look forward to sharing to with you the beauty and the rich cultural heritage of The Gambia which we believe will provide a most distinctive ambience and help to make your stay memorable."
First and foremost, " I salute the founding fathers for their foresight and urged that the AIO continues to take the lead in the quest to develop a vibrant and robust insurance industry in Africa".
According to Njie Saidy the role of insurance in supporting economic growth need not be over emphasises. In addition to providing risks transfer service to individuals and corporations, the industry facilitates trade and commerce, mobilises saving for investment and ensures efficient allocatkon.
Therefore, "in every body's intrest and an imperative to support the development of a strong insurance industry in Africa".
According to her, "as a result of globalisation, deregulation and terrorist attacks, the insurance industry has gone through tremendous transformation over the past decade."
Quoting from statistics,Madam Njie Saidy said the growth of insurance industry in Africa remains stunted inspire of the fact that insurance has been practised on the continent for more than 100 years.
She went on to say that Africa has an insurance penetration of roughly 1 percent and less than 10 percent of the insurable population in Africa is actually insured, noted Gambian Vice President.
On the subject of the theme, "Survival of The African Insurance Industry In The Face of Global Financial Crisis", Vice President said it is indeed apt saying that "when America sneeze , Africa must catch cold" which generate general laughter in the gallary.
She continued the United States of America was the epicentre of the crisis, it rapidly spread through out the global economy. The expectation at the outset of the crisis was that Africa would survive the crisis noting that this did not happen.
According to her, Africa was indeed hard hit by the crisis as a result of the confluence of the fall in global trade, decline in foreign direct investment and massive reversal of private capital flows, decline in remittances, sharp reduction of revenues from tourism and reduced access to credit and trade financing.
According to Njie Saidy the slowdown in the global economy has eroded some insurers financial strength and ability to meet on going obligations to policy holders.
On home front, She told delegates that the government of The Gambia is unreservedly commited to the development of the Gambian insurance industry adding that in 2007, the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) raised the minimum regulatory capital to D15.0 million. The capital augmentation has helped strengthened the risk bearing capacity of insurance companies as well as enhance their ability to underwrite big ticket risks.
To protect policy holders and ensure that business is conducted safely and soundly, She pin pointed that the industry should continue to be stringently regulated, albeit in a manner that does not stifle innovation, she suggested.
Ms. Lalla Ben Barka Deputy Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) speaking on behalf of Mr. Abdoulie Janneh United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA revealed that the growth opportunity of the African insurance industry has been slow, and the great potential abounds in both the insurance and re-insurance business has also been largely untapped in Africa.
According to Barka, recent statistics regarding growth in the financial services industry on the African continent shows a slow and low growth in the insurance industry when compared with other sectors of the economy.
ECA Deputy Boss noted that it would be important for the insurance industry to scale up the insurance penetration rate of the continent. She advised "in order to tap into Africa's potential, the industry must make greater use of its own basic principles of managing risks in venturing into non-traditional areas of economic activities in the continent.
"It should not allow itself to be restricted by market size and boarders but rather it should take a more trans-boundary approach in supporting broad based economic activities such as trade, manufacturing, tourism, industrialization etc.
"It also requires the industry to work between and among itself, and in partnership with national government, Regional Economic Communities and other regional organisations".
Mr. Barka stated that the ability of African countries to exploit their natural resources for the benefit of their people will only begin to yield fruit when they acquire the required technical and financial resources to do so, said Barka.
She pointed out that the insurance industry performs several key traditional functions relating to their functions to facilitating and promoting investment, which she spelled out increases capital formation. These, She continued is to stimulates the production of goods and services wealth and income, induces overall economic growth and to help to reduce poverty.
According to her, Africa's infrastructural needs are huge and massive, adding that it goes far beyond the capacity of individual governments, public or private insurance companies , entrepreneurs among others.
The industry, she disclosed can contribute to accelerating the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that would allow a majority of African people gain access to basic services in a sustainable manner, while urging them to play their part.
Speaking earlier, Pa Alasan S Jange Chairman Local Organising Committee , said the AIO conference and General Assembly is held annually adding that such an occasion offers them (AIO members) the opportunity to intract and exchange ideas in their business and also meet their colleagues and partners from other parts of the world.
He expressed his profound gratitude saying that "I am very optimistic that we gathered here today to fulfill our aims and objectives and and at the end expected to come with concerete resolutions in our drive to lift the African insurance industry to higher heights".
He revealed that AIO was established in 1972 and is a non-governmental organisation recognised by many African governments. The ceremony was chaired by Nana Grey, while vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Dawda Sarga President of Insurance Association of The Gambia.

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