Facilitator: Dr. Corneille Karekezi, Group MD/CEO of Africa Re
Selected questions to panelists
The global COVID-19 catastrophe has increased the awareness of the paramount importance of the digital economy in many sectors, such as trade, government services delivery, education, agriculture, health, and many more.
Question 1: How your authority / commission has seized this opportunity to pursue your objectives?
- Namibia has deployed an electronic regulatory system that allows insurers to submit returns electronically for the past 8 years. Thus, on pronouncement of state of emergency by the President in March, the transition to online submission was uninterrupted.
- Hand delivery of correspondences were also eliminated and email correspondences relied upon. This drastically improved turnaround time to provide supervisory feedback as we moved online and removed obligations for hardcopy submission which was mandatory given absence of electronic communication law despite the presence of the online electronic submission tool, we invested over 10 years ago.
- Industry meeting and continuous engagement proceeded smoothly using the virtual meeting tool but with less robust engagement typically experienced at face to face industry meetings. Together with the central bank, we conducted a joint supervisory college virtually which was extremely taxing but successful.
- Further to enhance supervisory activities, the Authority also started to explore other digital tools such as electronic stamps and fast tracking the interface of systems with industry to enhance efficiencies.
- Pro-active supervision i.e engage with CEO constantly during the pandemic (whatsapp group) heads-up on announcements to obtain buy-in in terms of relief measures to customers proposed.
- Exploited social media platform for consumer education
- Actively advocating for not cancelling policies
- Urging insurers to honour to improve perceptions and demonstrate value of insurance
- Quick response to customer queries on social media
- Private medical aid funders – refusal to pay for negative tests as an example
- Provided regulatory reprieve i.e suspension and/ relaxation of legal provisions:
- to allow insurers to provide financial relief to intermediaries
- Suspended obligation to invest only in investment rated countries (collapse of the financial markets)
Question 2: Does your authority / commission / industry fear to lose the control of things due to an accelerated disruption and fast change of business models?
Respondents: speaker from Namibia and speaker from Nigeria
Yes and No
YES – Because the absence of regulatory framework to regulate and supervise insurtech could stifle innovation and / or slow down the rate of digital transformation.
The time it takes generally to go through the legal due process to have and /or amendments (parliamentary processes, exacerbated if there is change in responsible political office bearers because that requires additional time 1 to 2 years for the new principal to acquaint themselves with the issues given their priorities) – so this has serious implication for pace within which necessary regulatory framework can be promulgated
NO – Most authorities on the continent have started to think on how deal with this change towards digital business models. Some peers on the continent (RSA, Kenya and Ghana as examples that have made significant strides and thus allows for peer learning.
The IAIS (international standard setting body) and its implementation partners – have done a lot to provide tools, platforms and guidelines that should allow authorities like mine tap into these rich resources to fast track adapting regulatory and supervisory tools to supervise digital business models.