(Business in Cameroon) - The general assembly of the Federation of African Insurance Companies opened on Monday February 26, 2013 in Yaoundé with a spotlight on compensation to victims of accidents, sickness, and natural disasters.
Holding on the theme, “insurance and social risk,” under the distinguished patronage of Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, opened the meeting last Monday. He urged insurance companies to open their policies to cover the less privileged.
“Discuss on better ways to cover victims of accidents, natural catastrophes, and sickness...on how to improve their condition of living which is already very difficult,” Yang told insurance professionals and observers. These African insurance companies, confirmed, Protais Ayangma, President of FANAF, will work on universal medical coverage in Africa.
Insurance penetration in Cameroon is just 1% annually, and only 10% of Cameroonians have health coverage but there is a dream of 20% by 2020, still judged to be insufficient by the Head of State, Paul Biya during his end of year address to the nation on December 31, 2012.
More so, insurance experts will discuss ways of making compensation equitable, fast, just, total and timely. “We want to emphasise on important topics like health for all, accidents and, above all, compensation which remains a major preoccupation to many. Each time, we meet, we challenge members to do well to pay claims of victims, our major role,” Mr Ayangma said.
Challenges of the insurance sector abound, and “experts in the sector are in Yaoundé to dissect,” these challenges, according to Martin Foncha, President of ASAC. One of such is the automobile guarantee fund.
Another major reflection on this conference bears on how insurance companies can push forward the development of Africa. This role was examined in a conference on Monday with Paulo Gomes, founder and CEO of Constelor Investment Holdings, as guest speaker. Mr Gomez told the participants that “insurance plays a central role in the development of infrastructure... you are supposed to provide finance and without this infrastructure platform, it would be impossible for the continent to grow much faster.” He also decried the number of days taken to start up a business, going up to 100 days in some countries; consequently there are “no enterprises to insure.”
Other experts blame the lack of political will for the poor coverage of risks by insurance companies. Taking the example of Mali at war, the experts said properties destroyed during the crisis will not be compensated, pulling down development efforts.
Cameroon’s insurance market is the second in the Inter-African Conference on Insurance markets (CIMA) zone, according to ASAC figures published in July 2012. Meanwhile, in 2011, insurance companies in the country had a turnover of 141.04 billion francs CFA, a 9.6% progression, organisers said while citing a 2010 report. “It’s a constant progression over the years, and we are optimistic that the figures of 2012 will improve considerably,” projects Alexandre Boya, general inspector at Colina Insurance.
FANAF as of December 31, 2012, counts 164 member insurance and assurance companies and two Automobile Guarantee Funds spread across 27 African countries.