Between Wednesday, September 27 and Saturday, September 30, a large group of life insurance underwriters, reinsurers, brokers and regulators from Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Botswana and Kenya converged on the Coconut Grove Beach Resort at Elmina in the Central Region for an international reinsurance seminar, under the theme ‘Life Insurance Penetration in Africa – Trends and Insights’. The seminar was jointly organised and hosted by the Nigeria-headquartered Continental Reinsurance and Ghana’s leading reinsurance broker, KEK Reinsurance Brokers.
The seminar was designed and organised by these two life reinsurers – both of which are life reinsurance leaders in their respective countries – toward actualising their shared belief that the life insurance industry in Africa is positioned for growth through implementing ideas identified in global trends and initiatives.
To this end, the seminar enhanced attendee’s knowledge and expertise of new global life insurance initiatives and practices – with particular emphasis on digitalisation; the use of data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as tools for improving both life insurance penetration; and the quality of life-insurance underwriting and customer service on the continent.
Welcoming participants to the seminar, Ms. Rose Apau, Head-Core Supervision, Ghana National Insurance Commission, emphasised the need to increase life insurance penetration in Africa; noting that Africa remains clearly under-represented with regard to life insurance coverage as measured by premiums generated – with the continent responsible for just 1% of global life insurance premiums. Narrowing the situation down to Ghana itself, she noted: “Data available to the NIC as at December 2022 reveal that while the life insurance industry grew by 22% and contributed 47% to total premiums, insurance penetration in Ghana still hovers at around 1%”.
In his opening remarks to participants at the seminar, Mr. Emeka Akwiwu asserted that there are inherent challenges with insurance penetration in Africa: ranging from income disparities, regulatory hurdles, political instability to cultural impact on insurance purchases. Indeed, Rita Apau further highlighted the latter by explaining that among other challenges, Africans sometimes wrongly view taking out life insurance as inviting death or bad luck.
However, she revealed that in Ghana – apart from embarking on vigorous insurance education and awareness campaigns – the regulator is taking concrete steps to make the regulatory framework more supportive: such as passage of the new Insurance Act 2021 (Act 1061) which creates a more robust regulatory regime and promotes the development of innovative products and distribution channels, particularly using emergent digital technologies.
Emeka Akwiwu futher opined that with technology, insurance companies in Africa are positioned for expansion into new markets and have the potential to optimise operations and improve service delivery. He enthused that in some jurisdictions of Africa, using technology has enabled claims to be paid within less than three hours – creating the potential for increased penetration and trust by customer markets if all insurers take advantage of such opportunities.
On his part, CEO-KEK Reinsurance Brokers, Nuerkie Ali Odzeyem, emphasised the need for participants to share ideas and be willing to collaborate with other stakeholders, such as regulators, to facilitate growth in the industry.
Facilitators from the Ghanaian, Nigerian and Namibian markets shared their expertise on bancassurance and underwriting initiatives, as well as their perspectives on the future of life insurance in Africa using technology and positioning the industry to attract younger generations.
The keynote address, delivered by Mr. Nkwenti Njah, Group Head-Life and Health Operations, KEK Reinsurance Brokers, focused on the outlook for insurance penetration in Africa; highlighting the need to leverage on technology and innovative ideas generated by the young workforce.
The seminar closed with remarks by Continental Re’s Regional Director for Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Ogadi Onwuaduagbo, who challenged all participants to ensure the underwriting discipline is adopted in place of price-wars, price undercutting and undermining underwriting principles- all of which can hinder growth of the industry. He further entreated participants to always engage KEK and Continental Re with risks – especially emerging risk, as he assured that both companies will always be available to provide optimal support toward increased insurance business size and increased penetration for life insurance in Africa.