Keynote address of CFI, Sunday Thomas @ Retreat for Financial Journalists in Uyo

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Gentlemen of the press, it is my pleasure and honour to welcome you to this year’s retreat in this beautiful city of Uyo the capital of Akwa Ibom State. The retreat has always been a fora we wine, dine and share information and ideas on the Commission’s approach to insurance regulation, progress and challenges to keep ourselves better educated in how we should report matters.

The theme for this year’s retreat “Improving Insurance Access through Market Development and Innovation in 2022 and beyond” is specially couched to consolidate on my administration cardinal agenda of developing the market and deepening penetration.

I am grateful to you all for taking time off your busy schedule to be here with us. Our collective efforts at ensuring the development and growth of the insurance sector will definitely translate to the growth and development of the Nation’s economy. As you are aware, the Commission has been implementing various market developmental initiatives to lift the insurance sector to a global standard through:
1. Risk Based Supervision Framework.
2. Encourage investment in digital capabilities and automation – e.g. launching of NAICOM Portal, launch of the Bimalab Project on the 9th of February, 2021.
3. Enforcement of the compulsory insurance products in Nigeria – via partnership with agencies and states.
4. Capacity development programmes – Actuarial, competency framework etc.
5. Sensitisation of various stakeholders – MSMEs on benefits of insurance, MDAs Insurance Desk Officers etc.
6. Introduction of regulatory reforms and policies e.g issuance of web aggregators’ guidelines.

We can gladly say that the Nigerian Insurance market has undergone substantial structural and regulatory reforms over the years following the market development initiatives being implemented and the evolution of Nigeria’s financial sector in the last decade which has been characterized by digital transformation.

The Commission is trying to open up the market across the geo-political zones by reaching out to the states where insurance penetration is perceived to be very low. We expect the industry to respond to these efforts by bridging the supply gap and ensure they follow up on the Commission’s move to create awareness among high ranking policy makers in order to prove that the industry is ready for the booming opportunities awaiting them across the country. As I said earlier, the project with the Kano State Government is a litmus test for us as an industry.

The importance of insurance post COVID19 and the aftermath of endSARS protest cannot be overemphasize hence, the marginal increase in the uptake of policies boosting the retail market and the annuity component. The recently released industry statistics has shown some growth in the sector. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics figures has shown that the sector has recorded positive increase in almost all parameters and have rated the sector as one of the fastest growing sectors in activities. Even though we are climbing the ladder, we all know that there is need for us to do much better as our potentials are huge.

Our efforts in the development of the market is an all inclusive one from the creation of avenues to deepen insurance penetration to increasing access to insurance products via digital platforms and increasing visibility of insurance across the nooks and crannies of the country. The Commission recently partnered with Financial Sector Deepening Africa, FSD Africa to launch the Bimalab Nigeria, a program aimed at accelerating the insurtech innovation. Let me inform you that the Commission will soon be unveiling the Commission’s sandbox to give room for innovative expansion of insurance reach out.

The web aggregators’ guideline is also aimed at opening access to insurance and also a means of creating a convenient market for insurance. Presentations are going to be made by subject matter experts on these issues and I believe more light will be thrown and you have the opportunity to ask questions so that you leave here more informed about the Commission’s objectives and priorities.

As you can see so far, the Commission is focusing on using technology to boost access to insurance as that seems the way to go under the prevailing circumstance. We are exploring ways to take insurance to where the other financial sectors are or even surpass that mark. Financial transactions are more of a one-stop shop for everything and is either we key in or we lose the business to more innovative outlets that will seize it from us.

Claims payment has always been one aspect the industry is battling to balance. We all agree that we cannot claim ignorance of the fact that the industry is paying huge claims out there even though activities of few amongst the operators is jeopardising the efforts of the majority. We had before now agreed to start ranking companies on the number of claims received and settled on annual basis and we intend to publish such ranking for the insurance consumers. It is always an issue that put the entire industry on the edge. The Commission is doing all it can to see that the non-settlement of claims is brought to its barest minimum in the sector.

I must commend you people for the wonderful job of promoting insurance in every opportunity you have. Indeed information is key to the success of governance and business and thus you formed an integral part of the industry. I thank you for this selfless service and believe that you will leave this retreat with better understanding of the Commission’s perspective on insurance development and increasing access to insurance services.

Wishing you a successful retreat and wonderful stay in Uyo.

O. S. Thomas
Commissioner for Insurance

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