“Soaring” Prisca Gbemisola Soares marks 70years in grand style

By Tope Adaramola

Ordinarily, one would not find it easy matching her ageless look with the reality of her joining the septuagenarians. Ms. Prisca Gbemisola Soares is by all standards one of the most iconic personalities the Nigerian Insurance industry is proud to have produced. In a clime where the voice of the female folk is struggling to resonate in high quarters, Ms. Soares carved a niche for herself as a chartered insurance practitioner, administrator, and professional diplomat.

It is a twist of fate that after her university education at the prestigious University of Ibadan where she studied French and German Studies (combined Hons) for her first degree, Prisca had harbored the thoughts of being employed in the foreign service where she felt she was most educationally suited. But she had a deep dislike for interpretation which she would have had to do if she was employed in the diplomatic circle, hence she turned the searchlight for a future career elsewhere.

As fate would have it, she was informed that a company called Nicon Insurance Corporation was recruiting graduate trainees and she was impelled to give it a shot, after consulting with one of her lecturers who gave her the needed encouragement to apply.

She eventually went for the interview and got the job. To all intents, working in an insurance institution did not really offer the best of attraction for any young person in those days, but little did the young Prisca knew that she was at the threshold of a career that would give her fame, glitz and continental acclaim and fulfillment.

Suffice it to note that Nicon Insurance Corporation at the time was one of the flagship commercial enterprises of government with huge power, resources and prospects. Aside from being the government’s insurer, Nicon was a potent institution and contributor to the nation’s fledgling economy under which hands entities such as the luxuriant Nicon Noga Hilton, Abuja- pride in the hospitality industry- was berth.

Record has it that the hotel was singlehandedly built by the company without any financial succor from the federal government or any of its institutions. Being one of the earliest insurance companies, Nicon was a solid breeding ground for a huge chunk of the insurance industry’s human resources as many of the frontline egg heads of the insurance industry have their progeny in the defunct company.

It is most auspicious that Ms Soares rose meteorically through the ranks of the company, wadding through all prejudices against a female professional to become the Managing Director of the company after about thirty years of employment. She remarked at a public forum that Nicon was a place to work because there you are given the grooming you require, not only in the professions but also in corporate leadership.

Rising to become the MD of the company was not a ready cookie. She went through the rigorous selection process put in place for the chubby position and worsted all other competitors. During her stay as MD of the company, the strength and comradeship within the staffers was strengthened, despite the threatening environment that the company was then operating. It was a period when the ownership of the company regretfully slipped into private hands, marking a turning point that many of the staff, insurance operators and other stakeholders have continued to rue to date.

Since a good professional is like a golden fish, it was not surprising that Ms Soares landed an international job after the headship of Nicon as the Secretary-General of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO), She was first lady to occupy such insurance continental organization. Her deft leadership, excellent social skills and gift of language as a polyglot gave her the leeway required to navigate through the surging challenges she was confronted with at the organization, which is headquartered in Douala, Cameroon.

She was able to combat the financial challenges initially facing the AIO as well as made it attractive, value-wise, by actuating the organisation’s training, potentials and by so doing broadening its relevance in the continent. She bowed out of the organization with her head high, a situation which she said was prodded by the statement by a member who had told her on hearing news of her appointment that he was not going to congratulate her until the end of her tenure. Her rich testimonial of leadership no doubt informed the conferment of a prestigious award of service on her during the AIO Conference, recently held in Nigeria.

Although it is often not the case to have successfully combined with humility, the case of Ms Soares is different. She has remained humble, down to earth and ever business-like. These unassailable qualities are no doubt infused into her from her rich catholic background which she relishes greatly and put devoted service to. As a mark of her commitment, Soares served as President of Catholic Women Organisation of the Holy Cross Cathedral from 2006 to 2009 and she was conferred with the Papal Award in 2009 by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Like the oak tree, the life of Ms Soares has been a great source of support and inspiration to her world, whether in the professions, family and religious circles. Little wonder, hordes of family members, associates and well-wishers congregated in Lagos to celebrate this woman of value on her modest 70th birthday.

Amongst the lethargy of felicitations was that of the current President of the AIO, Mr Tope Smart. According to him, “Ms. Soares’ life has been a great blessing to the Nigerian, as well as the African continent’s insurance industry. As a thoroughbred professional she was able to change the narrative of the AIO. She is indeed a gift to our world”. May more of her tribe continue to increase in our world, even as we all wish her a smoother ride on the ladder of the septuagenarians. Congratulations!

Tope Adaramola is
Executive Secretary of
The Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers

NCRIB two staff released as Council rejoices

By Favour Nnabugwu

 

The President, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) Bar. Rotimi Edu, has expressed utmost gratitude to Almighty God for released of the two kidnapped staff of the Council, namely Sola Olawuyi and Bude Adeola.

According to him, they were released yesterday night.

“I must on behalf of the Council express profound appreciation to all our Past Presidents, Elders and all members for their concern through intense prayer intercessions and timely counsel.

“The scenario speaks into the precarious state we are at the moment, requiring that we all live circumspectfully. May God grant us and the Council peace on all fronts.
I appreciate you all,” he said.

The staff members were taken hostage in the early hours of Sunday alongside another victim, in Isara axis of Lagos-Ibadan expressway end of Ogun State.

The suspected kidnappers, dressed in military camouflage and numbering four, allegedly seized the victims said to be on their way back to Lagos from Ibadan, when the car in which they were travelling broke down at about 6.45a.m.

The Executive Secretary, said the gunmen emerged from the bush and marched them into the bush and the kidnappers had contacted the management demanding N20 million each for the victims to regain freedom.

Adaramola said the kidnappers used the mobile phone of one of the victims to demand the ransom, adding that the management had equally reported the incident at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Isara.

He said a similar report was made by the management of the company to Ogun State Police Headquarters.

Abimbola Oyeyemi, spokesperson of the Ogun State Police Command has also confirmed the incident.

He said the Special Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the State was already tracking the kidnappers and making efforts to rescue the victims unhurt

Cyber perils outrank Covid-19, broken supply chains as top Nigerian business risk

 

By admin

 

Cyber perils are the biggest concern for companies in Nigeria, Africa and Middle East, South Africa and worldwide in 2022, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer.

The threat of ransomware attacks, data breaches or major IT outages worries companies even more than business and supply chain disruption, natural disasters or the Covid-19 pandemic, all of which have heavily affected firms in the past year.

Globally, cyber incidents tops the Allianz Risk Barometer for only the second time in the survey’s history (44% of responses), Business interruption drops to a close second (42%) and Natural catastrophes ranks third (25%), up from sixth in 2021. Climate change climbs to its highest-ever ranking of sixth (17%, up from ninth), while Pandemic outbreak drops to fourth (22%). The annual survey from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) incorporates the views of 2,650 experts in 89 countries and territories, including CEOs, risk managers, brokers and insurance experts. View the full global and country risk rankingsWatch the video

“’Business interrupted’ will likely remain the key underlying risk theme in 2022,” AGCS CEO Joachim Mueller summarizes. “For most companies the biggest fear is not being able to produce their products or deliver their services. 2021 saw unprecedented levels of disruption, caused by various triggers. Crippling cyber-attacks, the supply chain impact from many climate change-related weather events, as well as pandemic-related manufacturing problems and transport bottlenecks wreaked havoc. This year only promises a gradual easing of the situation, although further Covid-19-related problems cannot be ruled out. Building resilience against the many causes of business interruption is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies.” 

Violence, changes in legislation and regulation rising concerns in Nigeria

Political risks and violence and changes in legislation and regulation are rising concerns for businesses in Nigeria. Political risks and violence moved from fifth to second following #EndSars in 2020. Changes in legislation and regulation moves up four places to fourth in the country.

“Fortunately, large scale terrorism events have declined drastically in the last five years. However, the number, scale and duration of riots and protests in the last two years is staggering and we have seen businesses suffering significant losses,” says Bjoern Reusswig, Head of Global Political Violence and Hostile Environment Solutions at AGCS. “Civil unrest has soared, driven by protests on issues ranging from economic hardship to police brutality which have affected citizens around the world. And the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse – with little sign of an end to the economic downturn in sight, the number of protests is likely to continue climbing.” 

“Preparation is key – in particular for exposed sectors such as retail,” explains Thusang Mahlangu AGCS Africa CEO. “Businesses need to review their business continuity plans (BCP) and should be aware of what is happening around them. Typically, these only focus on national catastrophes, but there is a need for BCP plans to address political disturbances and other types of business disruption like cyber. Having defined, and preferably tested, procedures in place is crucial – these should include staff, client and general communication and social media plans. It is imperative for companies to think deeply about how they can best protect their assets and people.”

Ransomware drives cyber concerns while awareness of BI vulnerabilities grows

Cyber incidents ranks as a top three peril in most countries and regions surveyed including Nigeria, South Africa as well as Africa and Middle East. The main driver is the recent surge in ransomware attacks, which are confirmed as the top cyber threat for the year ahead by survey respondents (57%). Recent attacks have shown worrying trends such as ‘double extortion’ tactics combining the encryption of systems with data breaches; exploiting software vulnerabilities which potentially affect thousands of companies (for example, Log4JKaseya) or targeting physical critical infrastructure (the Colonial pipeline in the US). Cyber security also ranks as companies’ major environmental, social and governance (ESG) concern with respondents acknowledging the need to build resilience and plan for future outages or face the growing consequences from regulators, investors and other stakeholders.

“Ransomware has become a big business for cyber criminals, who are refining their tactics, lowering the barriers to entry for as little as a $40 subscription and little technological knowledge. The commercialization of cyber crime makes it easier to exploit vulnerabilities on a massive scale. We will see more attacks against technology supply chains and critical infrastructure,” explains Scott Sayce, Global Head of Cyber at AGCS. 

Business interruption (BI) ranks as the second most concerning risk globally and in Africa and Middle East and South Africa but moves down two places to sixth in Nigeria. However, it ranked first in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Namibia. In a year marked by widespread disruption, the extent of vulnerabilities in modern supply chains and production networks is more obvious than ever.

According to the survey, the most feared cause of BI is cyber incidents, reflecting the rise in ransomware attacks but also the impact of companies’ growing reliance on digitalization and the shift to remote working. Natural catastrophes and pandemic are the two other important triggers for BI in the view of respondents.

In the past year post-lockdown surges in demand have combined with disruption to production and logistics, as Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia closed factories and caused record congestion levels in container shipping ports. Pandemic-related delays compounded other supply chain issues, such as the Suez Canal blockage or the global shortage of semiconductors after plant closures in Taiwan, Japan and Texas from weather events and fires.

“The pandemic has exposed the extent of interconnectivity in modern supply chains and how multiple unrelated events can come together to create widespread disruption. For the first time the resilience of supply chains has been tested to breaking point on a global scale,” says Philip Beblo, Property Industry Lead, Technology, Media and Telecoms, at AGCS.

According to the recent Euler Hermes Global Trade Report, the Covid-19 pandemic will likely drive high levels of supply chain disruption into the second half of 2022, although mismatches in global demand and supply and container shipping capacity are eventually predicted to ease, assuming no further unexpected developments.

Awareness of BI risks is becoming an important strategic issue across entire companies. “There is a growing willingness among top management to bring more transparency to supply chains with organizations investing in tools and working with data to better understand the risks and create inventories, redundancies and contingency plans for business continuity,” says Maarten van der Zwaag, Global Head of Property Risk Consulting at AGCS.

Pandemic preparations improve. Next up – making businesses more weatherproof

Pandemic outbreak remains a major concern for companies but drops from second to fourth position globally and from first to ninth in Nigeria (although the survey predated the emergence of the Omicron variant). However, the risk moved up from fourth to third in Ghana, which shows that companies are still concerned about the peril. 

While the Covid-19 crisis continues to overshadow the economic outlook in many industries, encouragingly, businesses do feel they have adapted well. The majority of respondents (80%) think they are adequately or well-prepared for a future incident. Improving business continuity management is the main action companies are taking to make them more resilient.

The rise of Natural catastrophes and Climate change to third and sixth position globally respectively is telling, with both upwards trends closely related. Recent years have shown the frequency and severity of weather events are increasing due to global warming. For 2021, global insured catastrophe losses were well in excess of $100bn – the fourth highest year on record. Hurricane Ida in the US may have been the costliest event, but more than half of the losses came from so-called secondary perils such as floods, heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornados and even winter freezes, which can often be local but increasingly costly events. Examples included Winter Storm Uri in Texas, the low-pressure weather system Bernd, which triggered catastrophic flooding in Germany and Benelux countries, the heavy flooding in Zhengzhou, China, and heatwaves and bushfires in Canada and California.

Allianz Risk Barometer respondents are most concerned about climate-change related weather events causing damage to corporate property (57%), followed by BI and supply chain impact (41%). However, they are also worried about managing the transition of their businesses to a low-carbon economy (36%), fulfilling complex regulation and reporting requirements and avoiding potential litigation risks for not adequately taking action to address climate change (34%).

“The pressure on businesses to act on climate change has increased noticeably over the past year, with a growing focus on net-zero contributions,” observes Line Hestvik, Chief Sustainability Officer at Allianz SE. “There is a clear trend for companies towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions in operations or exploring business opportunities for climate-friendly technologies and sustainable products. In the coming years, many corporate decision-makers will be looking even more closely at the impact of climate risks in their value chain and taking appropriate precautions. Many companies are building up dedicated competencies around climate risk mitigation, bringing together both risk management and sustainability experts.”

Businesses also have to become more weatherproof against extreme events such as hurricanes or flooding. “Previous once-in-a-century-events may well occur more frequently in future and also in regions which were considered ‘safe’ in the past. Both buildings and business continuity planning need to become more robust in response,” says van der Zwaag.

Other risers and fallers in this year’s Allianz Risk Barometer:

  • Shortage of skilled workforce (13%) is a new entry in the top 10 risks at number nine.  Attracting and retaining workers has rarely been more challenging. Respondents rank this as a top five risk in the engineering, construction, real estate, public service and healthcare sectors, and as the top risk for transportation.
  • Changes in legislation and regulation remains fifth (19%) globally but moves up four places to fourth in Nigeria. Prominent regulatory initiatives on companies’ radars in 2022 include anti-competitive practices targeting big tech, as well as sustainability initiatives with the EU taxonomy scheme.
  • Fire and explosion (17%) is a perennial risk for companies, ranking seventh as in last year’s survey. Market developments (15%) falls from fourth to eighth year-on-year but moves up six places to fourth in Nigeria. Macroeconomic developments (11%) falls from eighth to 10th globally but remains unchanged at number three in Nigeria.
Great Nigeria Insurance set the drive for 2022 business

By Favour Nnabugwu
Great Nigeria Insurance Plc has critically analyse the operating environment, the  performance and the challenges faced in 2021 to set the tone for the year 2022 business drive
During the annual thanksgiving and praise offering at the first working day meeting of the year held at the organization’s head office in Lagos, commitment to improved performance for profitability was the major focus of the discussion.
The Managing Director of the company, Mrs. Cecilia Osipitan in her New Year address appreciated all members of staff for their staunchness and performance in the past year.
She also urged her colleagues in management to bring to fore an unrelenting commitment and dedication in ensuring that the targets set for 2022 are met and surpassed.
While addressing the workforce, the Chief Executive Officer appealed to them not to relent in their quest of making the GNI Plc brand the most preferred and patronized brand in the insurance industry in Nigeria. She urged everyone to prioritize accomplishment as the watchword for the organization’s operations in 2022.
Osipitan also announced the result of the half year appraisal exercise which according to her is in tune with the organization’s resolve to always recognize and reward outstanding performance.
Great Nigeria Insurance Plc is a composite underwriting firm licensed to underwrite both life and non-life insurance businesses with over 60 years’ experience in the Nigerian insurance industry.
In 2022, Great Nigeria Insurance Plc has reiterated its unflinching commitment to sustainable initiatives geared at ensuring greater performance and profitability.
The details of the appraisal exercise showed that sixteen employees were elevated in different cadres of the organization to higher positions of responsibility while thirteen members of staff received their employment confirmation owing to a satisfactory performance during their probationary period.
In her words, Cecilia said, “Our greatest asset is the Human Capital which we have recognized as the key success factor in organizational growth and survival, hence we will keep motivating our employees through a continuous reward process so that they can perform at their optimal level at all times”.
In the statement made available to the media, the organization’s theme of the year was ‘2022 Our Year of Phenomenal Growth and Profitability’, which espoused on the need to consolidate on the gains of the past years while also re-strategizing on how to make the business more profitable, whilst providing customer-focused solutions to the insuring public in the new year.
Great Nigeria Insurance Plc has over the years demonstrated commitment to maintaining a leading position in the insurance industry in Nigeria with its branch network spread strategically across the country.
Sir Oyegunle bags doctorate degree from JABU

By Favour Nnabugwu

 

The President, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) Sir. Muftau Olakunle Oyegunle, will be conferred with a honorary doctorate degree by Joseph Ayo Babalola University, JABU, Ikeji Arakeji, Osun State on Friday, January 21, 2022.

Sir. Oyegunle has distinguished himself through introduction of notable initiatives that have helped moved the industry to lofty heights since he became President of the insurance industry education arm. Of which, prominent amongst the initiatives was the induction of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the Patron and Honourary Fellow of Institute.

Oyegunle was born in Makurdi, Benue State to Alhaji Taiwo Oyegunle and Madam Adesola Oyegunle on the 23rd of June 1960.
He began his educational sojourn at St. Peter’s Anglican Primary School, Ile –Ife, Osun State and proceeded to Origbo Anglican Grammar School and Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State for his Secondary and Higher School Certificate education respectively.

In 1979, Sir. Oyegunle gained admission into the prestigious University of Ibadan to study Sociology and obtained a B.sc Hons (Sociology) in 1982. He equally completed the requirements for a M.B.A in Human resource Management in 2002.

Upon completion of his National Service, Sir. Oyegunle briefly taught at the Government Day Secondary School, Jaji, Kaduna State.
Defying the odds presented by a background in social sciences, a resolute Sir. Oyegunle began his foray into the insurance industry in 1985 when he was employed as Insurance Superintendent by Leadway Assurance Company Limited. A dedicated and assiduous grafter, Sir. Oyegunle’s application of intellect and skill to achieve results merited a progressive rise through the ranks to the position of General Manager, Commercial in 2009.

During this period, Sir. Oyegunle in pursuit of professional excellence, acquired the required certifications needed to reach the pinnacle of the insurance profession. He qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London in 1990 and became a Chartered Insurer in 1995. He became a Fellow of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria in 2003.

Sir. Oyegunle retired from Leadway Assurances Company Limited in 2013 to industry acknowledgment and acclaim after 28 years of meritorious service, to manage his private Company – Lakeg Nigeria Limited which engages in Insurance Consultancy. However, he still participates actively as Non – Executive, Director on the Board of the following companies; Prestige Assurance Plc; Leadway Hotels Limited, Maryland –Ikeja, Lagos; Leadway Capital & Trusts Limited and Alternate Non – Executive Director, Leadway – Pensure PFA Limited.

Sir. Oyegunle’s path to Presidency of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria is borne out of 26 years of service to the Institute in various capacities. He was Chairman, Kaduna branch of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria from 1994 to 1996 and was voted into Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria Council in 2009 in which he has remained a member to date. Prior to his investiture as President, he has served as the Deputy President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria and Chairman, College of Insurance and Financial Studies. In his 26 years as a member of the Institute and Governing Council, he has served as the Treasurer, member/ chairman of Education, Examination, Finance and General Purpose Committees of the Institute.

A beacon of professionalism, academic excellence and standards, Sir. Oyegunle has delivered several Academic and Professional papers worldwide. A widely travelled professional; he has had the privilege of attending several conferences and courses abroad especially at Swiss Insurance Training Centre Zurich, Switzerland, National Insurance Academy of India among others. He was part of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange team to Brazil in 1995.

His penchant for promoting inclusion and inspiring growth is not only restricted to the insurance industry as he has left a defining mark in other endeavours. He joined Wesley Cathedral in 1985 through the influence of his mentor, Late Sir. Hassan Olusola Odukale and has served the Methodist communion with passion to the glory of God.

He also ensured that during his presidency with the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, insurance penetration and awareness hit a record high, with the commencement of holding insurance quizzes for secondary schools all over the Federation. He also pioneered radio jingles on insurance aimed at creating awareness among the populace in local dialects over the airwaves, which on the long run will increase insurance awareness.

Sir. Oyegunle has been Secretary and Chairman of Harvest Committee and Building Committee, handing over the key of new Cathedral Building in Kaduna to Prelate Sunday Mbang in 1995. He has served the Church in various functions such as, Chairman of Investment Committee; Secretary and President of Men Christian League and Secretary and President of Fountain of Hope Society.

He has also been a member of the Leaders meeting and Trust Committee of the Cathedral for decades and served on the Board of Wesley Primary School, Kaduna. He is also a Life member of Bible Society of Nigeria.

In recognition of his services to God and mankind under the banner of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Sir. Oyegunle is privileged to have been honoured with the highest award, Knight of John Wesley (KJW) of the Methodist Church Nigeria in 2003.

He is a firm believer in the enabling power of God’s grace which permits service in his vineyard and in scriptural holiness. He is a man of integrity and lover of God’s work.

His desire to drive growth and engender prosperity is further evidenced in his position as the Chairman of his hometown umbrella development Association, Ilisan Development Association (IDA).

Sir. Oyegunle, the 50th President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, is happily married to Lady Elizabeth Iyabode Oyegunle and they are blessed with four children

 

Kidnappers abduct two junior NCRIB staff in Ogun State, demand N40m

 

By admin

Two junior staffers of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) have been abducted alongside another victim around the Isara axis of the road situated within Ogun State end of the expressway at exactly 6.45a.m yesterday.

The victims were said to be on their way back to Lagos from Ibadan before the car in which they were travelling broke down around the Isara axis of Sagamu, Ogun State at about 6.45am, and while in the process of fixing the car, the gunmen emerged from the bush and marched them into the bush.

The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Tope Adaramola confirmed that those abducted were junior workers of the council, that their salaries were not up to N60, 000.

At the time of filing this report the kidnappers had contacted the management demanding N20 million each for the victims to regain freedom.

“The victims, two of whom are workers of an insurance umbrella body in Lagos were on their way back to Lagos from Ibadan.”

The company scribe explained that, in the process of fixing the car, four gunmen, cladded in military camouflage emerged from the bush and marched the three victims into   the bush.

The council spokeperson, Dele Ayeleso, said the kidnappers later make use of mobile phone of one of the victims to demand ransom and also treating that if they did not receive money, that victims will be killed immediately

What Africa needs to do to make AfCFTA succeed

By admin

 

It is projected that under the African Continental Free Trade Area, extreme poverty will significantly decline across the continent, writes Zion Adeoye, Managing Director for Centurion Law Group’s AfCFTA Desk, and he lists what Africa has to do to realise the potential of the trade agreement

Established in 2018, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents perhaps Africa’s biggest opportunity for the next few decades in its battle against poverty of all forms, energy and infrastructure included.

Against the backdrop of the tens of millions of Africans that have been plunged into extreme poverty by the onslaught of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a strong case must be made for a speedy implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It is projected that under the AfCFTA, extreme poverty will significantly decline across the continent; West Africa for instance would witness the biggest decline in the number of people living in extreme poverty namely a decline of approximately 12 million people, which is more than a third of the total for all of Africa.

But beyond extreme poverty eradication, it’s about time that the true economic might of Africa is realized through intra-African trade. Compared with Asia and Europe with 59% and 68% intra-continental trade, only 17% of exports from African countries are intra-continental (World Economic Forum), due to age-long tariff and non-tariff barriers, which the AfCFTA is essentially established to eliminate.

The fact that intra-African trade constitutes only about 2% of global trade means there are significant gains to be realized if the AfCFTA is properly implemented. A continent that controls vast resources and a 1.2 billion-strong consumer market should be an economic success, especially considering its young burgeoning and vibrant population.

The African socio-economic and political construct under the AfCFTA dispensation must be able to provide security for the youth – security of livelihood, security of movement, security of innovation, security of lives and property. AfCFTA must be driven by the raw socioeconomic and might of a young and vibrant population and SMEs, not big government and big multinationals.

Cooperation on Infrastructure

The African Development Bank estimates that Africa’s infrastructure needs amount to $130–$170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range $67.6–$107.5 billion. However, the lack of cooperation on infrastructure has been as deleterious to African development as the lack of funds, which is always the first to be touted.

To make the AfCFTA work, there is a need to connect African economies both regionally and on a continental scale through reliable infrastructure, which is conceptualized, financed, and protected in common. Duplication and waste in infrastructural development must be jettisoned for optimal development of a regional or continental infrastructural blueprint.

Cooperation on infrastructure must include security infrastructure. What happens North of Mozambique should not be disconnected from solutions deployed South of Nigeria. We cannot promote trade without protecting production and investment across the continent. Mozambique’s insurgence problem is not just a Mozambican or Southern African issue, it is a threat to the entire continent and there must be concern and commitment to action in Abuja and Accra as there is in Pretoria and Pemba.

Cooperation on Energy

Africa’s energy poverty or its deficiency in any form is bad for business, both for Africa and the rest of the world. More than 600 million people in Africa live without electricity, including more than 80 percent of those residing in rural areas. Only two countries in the region, Mauritius and Seychelles, have near universal electricity coverage. Household electricity access is 75 percent or higher in only six nations in Africa. Almost two-thirds of the countries in the region have household access rates of less than 50 percent

While nations of the world must continue to make real commitment to tackle climate change, African nations, which have been responsible for a significantly lower amount of carbon emissions, must situate their commitments on carbon emissions within the bounds of reason while the global community must make proposals to African nations within the bounds of justice and fairness.

It will never be unreasonable or an anathema for African nations to seek to develop their natural resources to power their industries and secure the future of their young and growing populations after being held back from home-grown development for generations. Never again must the relief of the rest of the world be placed disproportionately on the back of Africans.

The development of Africa’s oil and gas resources does not preclude the development of renewable energy. Africa has untapped renewable sources wherein production costs are falling rapidly; renewable energy also offers transformative potential to relieve Africa from energy poverty.

Under the AfCFTA, member countries are obligated to align local laws with broad regional plans. As such, unified energy sector interventions and plans would result in growth of renewable production providing cheaper power to the continent and increased access to electricity enabling spillovers from the use of innovative technology.

Movement of People and Social Integration

It is not by accident that the most glowing example of free trade and perhaps regional prosperity, also epitomises free movement of people. The AfCFTA document pays the most luscious lip-service in the history of humanity to free movement of people, which is perhaps the most insurmountable obstacle for true integration in Africa. Clearly this remains an ultra-sensitive issue for more developed nations in Africa but we must remember that Nations are forged in history, not in nature, and often the comparative advantage of a region will significantly outweigh its historically delineated construct.

Certainly, for Africa, our historical segregations and amalgamations must be jettisoned for true cooperation for development. The defects of history must not detract our potentially glorious future. No price could be placed on the opportunity afforded a young European to prospect on a continental scale, with the whole of Europe representing a nation to work, live and love even while historical identities remain celebrated.

The concept of shared prosperity is something we have to embrace, and Africans must decide whether we want to continue to be poor neighbours with tall walls or wealthy nations with picket fences. Xenophobia and self-hate will have to be relegated while we build an enduring African commonwealth. Make no mistake, these are mutually exclusive.

Perhaps Africa has a unique opportunity to set a model for the rest of the world to follow on how regional cooperation can be meaningful, genuine and all-serving. Our rich culture of communal interdependence and vested engagement should be a valuable resource in the age of social distancing.

Cooperation on Implementation and Compliance

The mere existence of the AfCFTA document and endless discussions on its potentials will do nothing for African development. If we all agree that an African aggregation that can compete in a fast-moving world is an imperative, then each nation’s commitment to implementing and complying with what has been agreed must be unalloyed.

Real cooperation and commitment begin with having the very best hands and heads converging on rule making, implementation and monitoring under the AfCFTA framework. A flood of issues including protectionism, unfair competition, subsidies, currency manipulation, exchange rates, trade disputes and sanctions will now have to be dealt with in great detail within the AfCFTA framework. Ultra-Political representations will be insufficient, and technocrats must be allowed free rein to develop a robust body of rules of engagement and dispute settlement without inordinate political interference.

The seriousness of AfCFTA implementation also prescribes the need to avoid the analysis paralysis of unattainable consensus. There has to be an efficient means of reaching decisions which African nations must commit to even when these rules become unfavourable.

Communication, Energy Technology and Shaping Future Industries

Africa needs more channels of communication to connect African businesses and organizations. Poor communication networks have been a hinderance to the advancement of African economies. Advanced Information and Communications technology (ICT) can result in enhanced connectivity within Africa and help to increase access to goods and services. Under the AfCFTA, there is a need for the deliberate harmonisation of policies and regulations pertaining to ICT infrastructure in order to boost cross-border interconnections.

Even while still battling with debilitating energy poverty, Africa must reposition to shape future industries. Much of the resources that are essential to future industries and technology are abundant in Africa, and while holding the aces, playing second-fiddle is not an option for Africa in the next industrial revolution.

Further, many African companies are exporters of natural resources or raw products as opposed to finished or processed goods. Developing industries is therefore key as it provides African companies with the capacity to process raw materials and export finished products. Governments must also implement strategies that develop industrialization across a variety of sectors as this will increase the global competitiveness of the continent

NAICOM, NCRIB commensurate with family of George Onekhena

By Favour Nnabugwu
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and the Nigeria Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, NCRIB have expressed condolences to the family of the former Deputy Commissioner for Insurance, Finance and Administration over the demise of George Onekhena.
A statement by Head, Corporate Communications and Market Development, NAICOM, Rasaaq Salami, said he died last night in the United States, adding that the burial arrangement will be as announced by the family.
According to the statement, the Board, Management and Staff of the Commission commiserate with the family and pray that God grants them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
In the same manner, the Executive Secretary of NCRIB, Mr Tope Adaramola who was obviously shocked but the sad news, said it was like a thunderbolt in the wind to hear that the Nigerian insurance industry and the financial services sector has lost one of the prominent stars in its galaxy. Mr. George Onekhena.
He said the news of his death has cast a deep gloom and an undesired beginning of the year gift from nature on the staff hierarchy of the Commission, many of who are morning and ruing his departure at this crucial period when his impact was still being tapped by many who were close to him.
Before his dead, Onekhena was the Chief Executive Officer, Crown Height Consulting Services, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, United States.
He was a professionally certified Accountant with competence in financial reporting, general management, auditing, and insurance regulations.
He was an alumnus of the University of Lagos having graduated from the institute  with a Master of Business Administration – MBA Business Administration and Management, General George Onekhena was also a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
George Onekhena: Eclipse of an impactful life

By Tope Adaramola

It came like a thunderbolt in the wind to hear that the Nigerian insurance industry and the financial services sector has lost one of the prominent stars in its galaxy. Mr. George Onekhena, the immediate past Deputy Commissioner, Finance and Administration of the National Insurance Commission is dead.

According to information pasted on NAICOM Social media platform, George died in the United States during a brief illness, bringing a flourishing chapter to a close.
Personally, I came in contact with Mr Onekhena late 90s when he was the Executive Director of Finance of Lion of Africa Insurance Co. Ltd. He was one of the regular contributors to the Nigerian Insurers Association Journal, of which I was the Editor. On first contact, no one could resist the rich gift of pedagogy of George and his ever desire to impart knowledge.

Quite unassuming, you could feel his knack for making disciples amongst younger professionals who were still at cross roads or at sea about what to do with life. An encyclopedia of some sort, Onekhena was a pride to the accounting profession, having graduated from the University of Benin and earned the Associateship and Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, amongst others.

Prior to his foray into the insurance profession, he had flourishing `experience with first-class Accounting consultancies, the rich knowledge of which he availed the insurance industry as one time Chairman of the NIA Accounting Technical Committee, among others.

After the defunct of “Lion of Africa”, the late Onekhena had a break from public view, taking advantage of the period to further fortify himself and raise other younger fellows through his rich reservoir of knowledge and noble heart. He came back to the front row of the industry ‘s reckoning again when news broke out that he had been appointed as the Deputy Commissioner, Finance and Administration of the Commission, where he served his two term tenure with profound impact on the finances and administration of the Commission as the officer in charge. Feelers from the Commission indicated that the present level of manpower development coupled with the increasing savvy technological innovation of the Commission could not be entirely devolved from the impact of this egg head.

Little wonder, the news of his death has cast a deep gloom and an undesired beginning of the year gift from nature on the staff hierarchy of the Commission, many of who are morning and ruing his departure at this crucial period when his impact was still being tapped by many who were close to him.

In retirement, the late Onekhena left for the US to join his family and also take a vantage position to be of value to the industry and humanity. His knack for training continued unabated with his highly resourceful Crown Height Consulting Services, oiled by the benefit of the social media and IT. He was able to rally many prominent egg heads in the field of economy, commerce and academia as think thank and facilitated rich intercourse of ideas for the benefit of the financial services industry.

A common feature on several platforms and professional discourses facilitated by Financial Institute Training Centre (FITC), KPMG, ICAN, the College of Insurance and Financial Management, Late Onekhena was apt at digging out issues relating to the future of the Nigerian economy and global advancement in areas such as impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Economy and Cyber security. Like Nostradamus, he was a man who had a glimpse of the future, but unfortunately, he could not live to experience it.

Many, including this writer are in mourning mood for the loss of this iconic lecturer, mentor and intellectual in the professions. In one of our conversations I recalled him telling me, on inquisition about why he was so passionate about impacting knowledge on others, saying that it was going to be a great disservice for anyone who had been providentially blessed like him to go to the grave with all he had.

Though this seemed he had a premonition of his death, he indeed fulfilled this mandate, especially towards the eclipse of his life for those who were close to him. Like the passionate sower who had sowed all his previous seeds, what would be a delight to him in death is that those seeds of greatness germinate in all the soils upon which they were planted.

Adieu a great teacher, quintessential administration, rabid scholar, and noble hearted persona, until we meet to part no more. Painful, but we have abided with the omnipotent power of the Almighty God, whom you passionately believed while here, that He alone had the power to give and to take. No dout, the world will sorely miss you!

Tope Adaramola
Executive Secretary,
Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers

Sunu, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Allianz, NSIA in alliance with Ecobank in Bancaasurance

By Favour Nnabugwu

 

Five insurance companies are in alliance with Ecobank in Bancassurance to Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) across market of the bank

The five underwriting firms are Old Mutual; Allianz; Sunu, NSIA and Sanlam insurance companies

These customers will now benefit from the convenience of being able to access relevant solutions for all their insurance needs.

Ecobank Group Executive, Commercial Banking, Ms Josephine Anan-Ankomah, said a comprehensive suite of Bancassurance solutions, in partnership with some of the most reputable insurance service providers across Africa, makes us a one-stop financial services hub.

Furthermore, the resilience of SME businesses is enhanced through the effective risk transfer that Bancassurance provides, while our solutions also offer our valued customers the satisfaction of knowing that they will have some protection, having learnt from the painful experiences of COVID-19″.

The insurance products offered include Commercial Asset Insurance, Engineering insurance, Marine & Cargo insurance, Key Man insurance, Motor fleet Business Travel insurance, in addition to bespoke offerings such as Credit Insurance-Leasing, Credit Insurance-Invoice Discounting Without Recourse, and Agricultural Area Yield Insurance.

The Bancassurance service will be rolled out in phases, starting with Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Ecobank Group’s 21 other affiliates will come onboard in the second phase.

Demand for Bancassurance services from SMEs across our markets has been on the rise as businesses seek to shake off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by looking for solutions to cushion themselves from similar occurrences in the future

Africa’s insurance industry is valued at about US$68 billion in terms of Gross Written Premium (GWP). Prior to COVID-19, the insurance market in Africa was expected to grow at compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 7 percent per annum between 2020 and 2025, nearly twice as fast as North America, over three times that of Europe, and better than Asia’s 6 percent.

This makes the continent the second-fastest-growing region for insurance globally after Latin America – thanks to steady economic growth in most countries and the underdeveloped insurance sector.