By Ifeanyi Ugwuadu
A reinsurance pool domiciled in Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation for insurers in the West African sub-region has begun to wind down the operations of the pool preparatory to final exit this year. In its place,Â a WAICA Re is in works for takeoff next year.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard weekend, Secretary-General of Gambia-based West African Insurance Companies Association, Mr Williams Coker said the former pool arrangement is now in the final stages of its transformation to a regional reinsurance company, WAICA Reinsurance Corporation.
Interestingly, Nigeria has lost the hosting of the international reinsurance company to Sierra Leone but fortunately it would serve as a full branch hub for the large market here. But he unequivocally, said the Sierra Leonean government has taken the hosting rights of the reinsurance company.
The company will emerge as a collaboration with ECOWAS and will serve as a springboard for further economic integration in the sub-region, particularly in the insurance of multinational cooperation for insurance of projects in West Africa.
â€œSince I came here in Nigeria, I had held meeting with officials of ECOWAS with a view to achieving another objective of the founding fathers and that is the establishment of the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation which hopefully, will be the commercial arm of WAICA while WAII remains the academic arm,â€ Coker disclosed.
He expressed gratitude to the management of Nigeria Re for managing the Pool on behalf of WAICA for many years and also thanked the government of Sierra Leone for accepting to host the companyâ€™s headquatres in Freetown.
â€œAgain, we want to thank the government of Sierra Leone for actually giving us the privilege and offering to host the reinsurance corporation. We are looking forward to working with them in establishing it thereâ€, Coker stated.
â€œNigeria is a big market. World players donâ€™t ignore Nigeria and so who are regional players like us to ignore the market. It will be to our detrimentâ€, he stated affirming, â€œ Weâ€™re certain that we will have a fully functional branch office in Nigeria and of course we will look at other countries that we need such business as well.â€
According to him, â€œWAICA Re has been on the table for a long time citing other grounds for establishing the company this time. â€œOne school of thought can justifiably say that it is project which is long overdue. But why now? Now because weâ€™re more focused in making sure that we make our contribution to our sub-regional economyâ€ the WAICA CEO stated.
The expected leap in the growth of economies in the region as well as increasing regional projects that lack insurance and reinsurance component are among the opportunities which are driving the urgent incorporation of the company, Coker said. In addition, the deposits of oil being discovered along the coasts of West Africa will give further push to the economy of the sub-region, he noted.
Nigeria Re and indeed Nigeria may have lost out in the location of the head office because of the citing of Africa Re, a continental reinsurance company in Lagos and again as a result of perceived doubtful management of the existing pool under a private ownership of Nigeria Re.
While defending the proposed establishment of the reinsurance company, Coker believed this time is appropriate for WAICA to move to the next step of its development.Â