The Organisation of Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI) held its 2020 OESAI Annual conference as a Virtual conference on the 23rd October.
The event was attended by over 150 delegates and was held under the Theme “ Collaboration towards a Sustainable Insurance Sector in Africa” The 2020 OESAI Virtual conference was graced by Dr Trevor Maynard , Head of Innovation at Lloyd’s, United Kingdom. Keynote speakers and included Insurance Regulators from across the Africa continent, CEOs of major Reinsurance and Insurance Companies, Research organisations and Insurtechs.
Commenting on the theme of the Conference, the OESAI Secretary General, Ms Linet Macharia said, “ OESAI’s mandate has morphed over the years from just being a facilitator of meetings & fostering collaboration between companies operating in Eastern & Southern Africa region to that of leading our members towards embracing Sustainability amongst other objectives.”
Ms Macharia added that, “As members of the AfDB’s African Financial Alliance on Climate Change (AFAC) initiative and a supporting institution of UNEP Finance Initiative – Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), OESAI is tasked with driving the Environmental Social and Governance agenda in the region by promoting the acceptance, adoption and implementation of the Principles within the industry and promoting integration of ESG in risk assessment and management.”
Opening the 2020 OESAI Virtual Conference, the OESAI Chairperson, Ms Patty Karuaihe-Martin said, “The sector and its partners can build on the growing momentum and overcome the continuing barriers to deeper implementation of sustainable insurance practices over the coming decade.’
She indicated that the insurance industry is a key part of the financial system, managing over USD$30 trillion in assets globally. “We are an important guardian of wealth and financiers of economic growth. Our companies help to spread and smooth risks for millions of individuals,businesses and governments”, said Ms Karuaihe -Martin, who is also the Managing Director of Namibia Reinsurance (Namibre).
“It is therefore natural that we pay considerable attention to the risks and threats within the environment. Indeed, a core role for insurance as society’s risk manager is to raise red flags and challenge the rest of the system to change course before threats become unmanageable.” she indicated.
The 2020 OESAI Virtual Conference discussions centred on three Key topics, namely, Sustainable Regulatory Support: Building a resilient African insurance market and Digital innovation in the Insurance sector.
The Secretary General explained that New technologies and innovations are providing valuable new tools for closing the protection & resilience gap. Integrating ESG into underwriting is also a bold move towards a sustainable insurance market, she added. However, how quickly the change will come means that laws, regulations, policy and regulatory architecture must change and hence the importance of discussing Sustainable Regulatory Support.
Commenting on the second conference topic, namely, Building a resilient African Insurance Market, Ms Macharia said that this included discussions on Climate, the COVID19 Pandemic & other emerging Risks, integrating ESG Factors into Underwriting, Technical Capacity in the sector to achieve sustainability, while Digital Innovation in the Insurance Sector included discussion around Insurance data & Modelling, Product Design, Pricing and Distribution, Insurtechs, Micro Insurance, bancassurance, Alternative risk transfer.
Ms Macharia explained that the goal of the Conference was to help frame the issues and stimulate the important discussions that need to take place around these critical issues.
Insurance Regulators contributing to the discussions were in agreement that while a lot had been done in the past five years to harmonise regulations within the Insurance sector, however much still needed to be done to protect policy holders especially in light of new and emerging risks. The Insurance penetration statistics across Eastern and Southern Africa are still low and insurance players need to continue to educate customers on the importance of insurance, while demonstrating that the industry honours its promises to customers, they said.
Speakers who contributed to the topic on Building a Resilient African Insurance Market agreed that there was more work to be done to integrate the UNEP-FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance into the strategic frameworks of insurance and reinsurance companies. Speakers commented on the need for increased collaboration in research as well as development of strategies and products that meet the sustainable future needs of the industry as well as customers.
The growth and use of the Internet of things (IOT) has led to a rapid growth in innovation in the Insurance industry. However, speakers agreed that there was more to be done , for African insurers in data-mining and using big data to map and segment customers, design relevant products and innovative distribution channels. Speakers noted that a number of Insurtech companies have emerged that
are competing with and creating innovative products for customers across Africa. These companies should be nurtured and encouraged to partner with traditional insurers to create more relevant products across the various insurance product lines.
In her closing remarks, the OESAI Chairperson said that OESAI was one with all member organizations working towards integrating the PSI principles. She added that “We will continue to work together with our partners, our members and the market to further this call and assist the sector to achieve these principles for sustainable insurance.”