Ghana is currently hosting the 22nd Educational Conference of the Association of Insurers and Reinsurers of Developing Countries (AIRDC) in Accra. The conference, which started on Monday, September 26, ends today. This is the first such gathering since 2018, when the 21st conference was held in Nepal. The next conference was slated for 2020 but COVID-19 forced a two-year postponement to 2022.
AIRDC is a non-political, non-governmental, non-religious and not-for-profit association, whose members are insurance or reinsurance entities domestically incorporated and owned by nations, bodies and/or organisations of developing countries or areas, or other related insurance organisations such as companies, brokers, national associations, research or training institutes, licensed or registered in any developing insurance jurisdictions.
The association’s guiding principle is to develop and expand international collaboration and cooperation in the fields of insurance and reinsurance of every type. It also has as its objective to strengthen the insurance market in developing countries, and to foster inter-regional cooperation within the insurance industry.
The conference, being held under the theme: ‘Building Resilience in the Heat of a Global Economic Tussle’, is being attended by an array of domestic and international insurance chieftains and representatives of key stakeholder institutions. The keynote address at the opening ceremony was delivered by the Special Guest of Honour, Ghana’s Dr. Ibn Chambas, as Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel, (UNOWAS). Other speakers include Ghana’s Insurance Commissioner, Dr. Justice Ofori.
Attendees include AIRDC’s President, Yasser Albarhana; its Secretary-General, Januario Aliwalas; executives and members of both AIRDC itself and its collaborating institution – the Association of Insurance Supervisory Authorities for Developing Countries (AISADC); National Insurance Commissioners and executives from the various member-countries; trustees of AIRDC; leaders of various insurance associations; and CEOs of insurance and reinsurance companies.
Also in attendance is Dr. Aaron Issa Anafure, AIRDC’s Vice President, who is the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the conference.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, Dr. Justice Ofori noted that due to the effects of COVID-19, “the relevance of having an insurance policy for the uncertain future became more conspicuous to persons and organisations who, hitherto, were adverse to insurance”. He asserted that “many have woken up to the reality that no one knows tomorrow; hence, the need to cushion us against any unforeseen occurrences”. This has led to significant transformation over the past two years as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about change and opportunities in the way insurers do their business.
Dr. Ibn Chambas, in his keynote address, emphasised the global nature of the insurance market, particularly reinsurance, pointing out that the theme for the conference could not have been more appropriate, particularly given the tumultuous international situation, with disruptions in global supply chains, food and energy crises, and predictions of recessions in some of the major economies.
Indeed, he recalled past major incidents which called for major insurance payments since the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Hamburg fire in 1842, and the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. He also recalled the World Trade Centre terrorist attacks of September 2001; and here in Ghana, the Accra Stadium stampede of 2001 and the June 3, 2015 flood and fire disaster which cost Ghanaian insurers the cedi equivalent of some US$90million.
Dr. Chambas noted that several macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges, such as rising inflation and ongoing disruptions to cross-border supply chains are afflicting developing economies, threatening efforts to establish a global economy based on the free flow of goods and services. He particularly pointed to the potential role of insurance and reinsurance on a pan continental scale in the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is designed to affect over 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP of US$3.4million.
Dr. Chambas proposed: “ I would urge all members of AISADC to lobby their governments to change their policies in favour of the AfCFTA agreement which has the potential to boost Africa’s shared prosperity by attracting investment, increasing trade, creating better jobs, reducing poverty and redistributing wealth across the continent”.
He concluded his address by urging participating institutions at the conference to address several key issues: leadership and governance quality; how member-countries can operate under multiple regulatory jurisdictions; the increased usage of technology; how the industry can leverage the lessons learned from the developed world to fuel cross-border expansion in emerging markets; and how to restructure the global industry to give greater market share to developing market jurisdictions.
AIRDC was formally established during the 2nd Third World Insurance Congress (TWIC) held in Argentina in 1980. Its constitution and by-laws were approved at the 4th TWIC held in Morocco in 1984.
The association seeks to improve its value proposition to its members; improve its brand image; increase membership in existing and new countries; and increase its financial resources.