Insights from Linet Odera, Former OESAI Secretary General and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Regional Leader
In a candid and enlightening interview, Linet Odera, the former Secretary General of the Organization of Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI), and current UNDP’s Insurance and Risk Finance Facility Leader, shared her insights into the transformative changes that swept the insurance industry during her tenure and the path forward for sustainable growth in the sector.
Navigating Through Unprecedented Challenges
Linet’s tenure at OESAI coincided with an unprecedented global challenge – the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As countries grappled with the pandemic’s impact on lives, livelihoods, and economies, insurance emerged as a vital instrument for resilience. Governments and the private sector began engaging in profound discussions about fortifying communities and businesses against unforeseen disruptions. Linet emphasised that her team at OESAI took on the mantle of fostering innovative and scalable financing mechanisms aimed at bolstering financial protection and long-term resilience. The crucial role of insurance in driving inclusive economic growth, protecting lives, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has come to the forefront of this dialogue.
Furthermore, Linet highlighted the remarkable shift towards technology adoption within the industry. Insurers embraced technology not only for product development and operations but also for distribution. This technological leap has propelled underwriting capabilities, data analysis, and modelling, leading to operational efficiency and the diversification of product offerings.
Promoting Sustainable Insurance and ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) Integration
One significant achievement during Linet’s tenure was OESAI’s role as the first supporting institution of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) in the region. Linet and her team championed the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda by advocating for the acceptance and implementation of PSI within the insurance industry.
This commitment to ESG has evolved into the Nairobi Declaration, a collaborative effort involving multiple leaders committed to advancing sustainable insurance practices. Linet’s dedication to promoting ESG integration in risk assessment and management reflects a growing awareness of the industry’s responsibility towards environmental and social considerations.
Ethio-Re wishes OESAI A HAPPY 50th year anniversary
And recognizes its efforts exerted to promote the business of (Re)insurance across the Eastern and Southern Africa Region and beyond.
Rising with Africa!
Unfaltering Dedication and Unfulfilled Aspirations
Asked about her aspirations before leaving OESAI, Linet expressed her regret at the shift caused by the pandemic. Physical engagement plans had to be shelved, but this did not deter OESAI’s progress. Membership expanded by an impressive 20%, including the onboarding of new member countries such as DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo),
Ethiopia, South Sudan, Canada, and the UK. The OESAI conference saw a surplus growth of over 100% compared to the previous year, signalling the organisation’s vitality and relevance.
Strategic partnerships were another achievement, with OESAI collaborating with external partners like the AfDB’s African Financial Alliance on Climate Change (AFAC), UNEP Finance Initiative – PSI, World Bank, and others. These partnerships enabled the production of knowledge products, training, advocacy, and research on insurance, enhancing government and stakeholder engagement.
Paving the Way for Sustainable Growth
Linet’s enthusiasm for industry developments that excite her is palpable. She is particularly excited about the sustainability of the insurance sector in Africa and the potential harmonisation of the insurance regulatory framework. She highlights her role at UNDP in leading this critical task, aligning it with the broader roadmap of “Regulation as a Stimulus” (RaaS) related to access to finance. The harmonisation effort responds to AfCFTA’s call to action for the insurance sector, presenting an opportunity for accelerating the growth of the African insurance market.
Linet also underscores the increased collaboration between governments, development agencies, and the private sector. This collaboration has facilitated the delivery of innovative protection solutions across the region. In her new role at UNDP, Linet coordinates these efforts from a developmental perspective, emphasising the importance of collective action in driving positive change.
In conclusion, Linet Odera’s journey from OESAI to UNDP reflects her unwavering commitment to advancing resilience, sustainability, and inclusive growth within the insurance industry. Her insights shed light on the industry’s response to unprecedented challenges, technological transformation, and the imperative of embracing ESG considerations.
Linet’s aspirations for a harmonised regulatory framework and enhanced collaboration demonstrate her continued dedication to shaping a thriving and resilient insurance landscape in Africa and beyond.