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Ekundayo gives insights on how W’African insurers built WAICA Reinsurance
The Managing Director of WAICA Reinsurance Corporation Plc, Mr. Abiola Ekundayo, has opened up on the activities leading to the formation and growth of the corporation in West Africa in the last 30 years.
Explaining more in an interview, he said “When we talk of reinsurance, it has no bounds really so to say. We started because WAICA Re belongs to the West African English speaking countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia predominantly”.
“And when it was a pool really, reinsurers came together to set up the pool, but their intention then was that the company we were setting up would eventually become a reinsurance company, but it took them almost 30 years or more before they could achieve that goal in 2011. That’s why it is difficult or not very common to see an individual having a reinsurance company.
Ekunday averred that “Reinsurance by nature is an international business. One of the differences between insurance and reinsurance is that insurance is local, while reinsurance is international. Another one is that reinsurance is secondary, insurance is primary”.
He made it clear that “If you want to do reinsurance, it has to be international; you meet people, you do business. If you want to concentrate on your country or your neighbourhood, you won’t go anywhere”.
“That’s why when we started really because we inherited WAICA Re from the WAICA pool even that year, we started to get business from all over Africa, from North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, from all over, we were getting business. It is not possible as a reinsurance firm to concentrate on your country alone; so, we have even gone beyond Africa now.
On other areas WAICA as extended aside Africa, the managing director revealed that “We do little with the Asian countries”.
“From the environment, you cannot say it is conducive or not, it is global. You look at your business as a global business, and then you want to approach it globally, which is exactly what WIACA Re has done. If you look at the business from West Africa, when I say West Africa, I mean the English speaking West African countries, we are still okay. We are very close to almost half of the business.
Continuing, he disclosed that “When we started, I told my team that look, I don’t want us to concentrate on only West Africa; I want us to go global, I want us to go anywhere and do business. You know there are areas you don’t go to, but even in Africa, if you want to concentrate on Africa alone, you can do well. That’s why you see some reinsurers don’t want to go beyond Africa; but in our own case, we have gone a little bit beyond Africa. When others are burning their fingers here and there, we thank God it’s not so with us.
On chances of spread across remaining parts of Africa, Ekundayo said “We have the head office in Sierra Leone. Under Sierra Leone, we have the head office in Abidjan in Cote D’Ivoire writing business for the French speaking countries”.
“Then we have a contact of this in Nigeria then Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Ghana, and Nigeria and Abidjan we are together. But now, we have set up a subsidiary in Kenya. We have an office now also in southern Africa, that is in Zimbabwe. What we did in Zimbabwe was to acquire a reinsurance company; the minimal capital in Zimbabwe is $5m, which we also paid. Tunisia is a contact office under Sierra Leone. We wanted Morocco. Morocco is a closed market so we could not do business in Morocco so; we abandoned that one and went for Tunisia. Tunisia is friendly,” Ekundayo revealed.