Chairman of Heirs Holding, Tony Elumelu, has said that the federal government’s Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria initiative can only work when the three arms of government, the executive, the judiciary and legislature, work together to put up right business policies that will prepare Nigeria as investment destination.
Elumelu, stated this in a key note address at the 2017 National Insurance Conference organised by the Insurance Industry Consultative Council ( IICC) in Abuja.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Nigeria Open for Business’, Elumelu, said capitals for business go where they are welcomed therefore for Nigeria to promote, attract and retain investment, it must position itself to promote domestic business which will in turn attract foreign investment.
“For Nigeria to position and promote domestic business, government must improve the process of doing business. Insurance business in particular is a course for concern, government must create right environment for local entrepreneurs to send signal to foreign investors that the environment is conducive.
“The executive, must take step further towards implementing policies that enable business growth, must be willing to share the vision of the masses, the legislature also has critical role to play in this regard”, he said.
He maintained that Nigerian investors are ready to do business if the right polices and legslation are in place.
He listed critical factors for the three arms of government to work together, saying they must agree in their vision, must create uniform roadmap, must agree on road each arm will follow to achieve the vision, must work together for prosperity, work for infrastructural recovery including transportation.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mamud Isa Josse said the fact that currently about three million policyholders in Nigeria out of a population of 180, who have insurance cover, means that there is a lot more potential to increase the number of policyholders.
She said through insurance,relatively small premiums from millions of policy holders,
can create a pool to support long-term financing for economic growth.
“We must be willing to expand the insurance market beyond the upper class and formally employed market, to the middle and lower income market. Doing this, means that our distribution channels must be innovative, considering product features, cost, proximity and all other relevant factors. Alternative distribution channels can also be considered including the use of aggregators to facilitate the sale of group insurance to an existing membership base such as market associations, savings cooperatives, and mobile network operators”, she stated.
Adeosun, also said that selling insurance policies can be done through mobile phones, adding, “in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, we must reach the rural areas and the unbanked. We must achieve financial inclusion, deepening insurance penetration
through financial inclusion would include, developing the technical capacities to meet the emerging challenges of financial inclusion and micro-insurance. This therefore, calls for more dynamic strategies to deepen the insurance
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, said that insurance is a vital link in the vast chain of business activities in any economy.
He said it is also the best vehicle for reducing economic loss as well as serves as a stabiliser and promoter of an economy’s commercial activities.
Kari said: “These are second to providing vast accumulation of investible capital for the economy the various reforms and initiatives of the present administration which include the focused policy against corruption, fight against terrorism, improved management of the nation’s wealth and the determination for improved infrastructure; all points towards ensuring the business environment is prepared for business.
He added: “In the spirit of the Executive Order issued by the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo on the ease of doing business, the commission has commenced a review of it’s processes which include timelines and datelines as stipulated and the longevity of time period for certain documentations e.g, approvals, licensing and permits.”
According to him, the Nigeria development plan vision 2020 described the Nigeria insurance sector as “a gross untapped opportunity ” with low market penetration.
He said foreign investors, having noted these great opportunities, are attracted by the huge potential in the Nigerian insurance space, noting that the investors are ready to position themselves for the future, hence the likes of Axa, Prudential, Liberty, Swiss RE, Sunu Group, Saham, have taken positions in the industry and in partnership with indigenous companies for development and growth.
According to Kari, the country witnessed three foreign acquisitions into the sector in 2014, two in 2015, five in 2016 while two Companies are now in progress.
He said despite that, the growth of the Nigerian insurance industry is hinged on right products, innovation, prompt claims payment and healthy competition between local players and their foreign counterparts.