President Muhammadu Buhari has urged insurance firms in Nigeria to take advantage of ongoing efforts by the federal government to grow the non-oil sector of the economy through innovation.
This came as the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, charged insurance practitioners to design their products around the needs of the society.
Speaking at the virtual opening ceremony of the 47th African Insurance Organization (AIO) Conference and Annual General Assembly, the president commended their role in encouraging medical practitioners to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
According to him, the insurance sector would play a vital role in the diversification of the economy by bringing necessary stability, economic sustainability, revenue generation, job creation and financial inclusivity.
“There is a great future for the insurance industry in Africa. We only need to put the right mechanisms in place for it to thrive. I assure you that this administration has and will continue to support insurance growth in Nigeria and Africa at large.
“I commend the leadership of the AIO for its resilience, foresight and perseverance in ensuring that the African insurance market strives to meet its expectations in the global market, notwithstanding the prevailing challenges,’’ he said.
Buhari described the theme of the conference, “Rebuilding Africa’s Economy: An Insurance Perspective” as apt and well thought out to respond to the reality of the moment as many governments seek to devise ingenious ways of managing their economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has indeed changed many perspectives that have forced leaders across the globe to think hard for remedies.”
“I want to assure you that we in Nigeria are doing everything humanly possible to ensure a coordinated approach to the pandemic and reaching out to other African leaders on possible best options to fully revive the African economy in which I strongly believe the Insurance industry will have a vital role to play,’’ he added.
The president noted that the COVID-19 pandemic also presented a global challenge which led to lockdowns of many countries, imposed travel restrictions and the issuance of many health protocols affecting all human, social and economic interactions that made hosting of the conference impossible in 2020.
“COVID-19 is still a serious challenge in many countries across the globe. However, adequate protocols have been put in place to curb its spread and vaccination is in progress.
“We understand, as a government and nation, the need to frontally tackle some of the disruptions to our social, economic and health occasioned by the pandemic, by putting in place sufficient measures that allow the system to function.
“I once again use this opportunity to commend the Nigerian insurance industry for identifying with the government through the provision of life insurance packages for frontline medical and paramedical personnel in the course of this fight.
“Your support and solidarity in these times are highly appreciated,’’ the president added.
He thanked the organizing committee for successfully putting the conference together, adding that the subtopics listed for discussion were both germane and critical to helping Nigeria and Africa rebuild.
“We are aware that the AIO’s Conference and Annual General Meeting is rotated amongst member states in order to provide a forum for exchange of information and strategies on market developments, while promoting regional knowledge and integration.
“We received the news of the decision of the Executive Committee of the AIO granting Nigeria the hosting rights of this 47th edition of the AIO Conference with pleasure.
“As a country, we are confident in our ability to deliver the best conference ever in year 2020 before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic,’’ he said.
In her remarks, the minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the foresight of the founders of the AIO deserved commendation as it had fostered the African integration agenda and how best to collectively address shortcomings.
She urged the insurance sector to design their products around the needs of society, especially for the low-income earners, noting that a greater impact on development would only be possible by looking at the African peculiarity.
The President of AIO, Mrs Delphine Traore, who is also the Chief Operations Officer, Alliance Africa, noted that the conference was last held in Nigeria in year 2000, assuring that innovation in the sector would help in complementing government efforts in development.