President Koroma launches WAICA Reinsurance Corporation Plc
Statement by His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone at the launch of the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation Plc in Lagos, Nigeria, 15 March, 2o11.
Salutation: It is with a feeling of great pleasure that I am here to launch the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC. I can say with pride that this is a major milestone on the journey towards closer economic integration in West Africa. Let me start by formally congratulating all who have played a part in the creation of this institution. It is a truly remarkable achievement which will be reflected in the annals of history. I note with satisfaction that an organization born within WAICA with the Secretariat now based in Ghana, christened by the advisory team in Sierra Leone in consultation with colleagues from across the sub region, sustained by shareholders from all the countries of the sub region and beyond, is coming of age in Nigeria today.
On a personal note, I am absolutely delighted to be part of this epoch-making event that signifies the realization of a particular goal of the association. Indeed, I was President of WAICA when the idea was first seriously considered and today by divine providence I am here when it is being brought to its logical conclusion. It has taken rather too long for the institution to come into existence but I am happy that it has finally happened. As we endeavour to work together in a more coordinated manner, it is my fervent hope that new ideas would not take so long to come to fruition.
We in Sierra Leone feel very proud to be able to host this institution, particularly when the signing of the headquarter agreement has been done today. Please be assured of our unfailing commitment to the success of this institution and our firm resolve that we will stand ready to support it in any way we can.
We are also proud that we have been able to provide some element of the leadership in setting up the institution and this is a testimony to the significant strides made in improving the business environment in Sierra Leone. In the last 4 years, there have been new laws including:a. The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Agency (SLIEPA) Act b. Companies Act 2009 c. Environmental Protection Act 2008 d. Other Financial Services Act e. Business Regulatory Environment and many more
In fact, these legislative changes have played a key role in the development of the banking sector which has seen institutions operate across national boundaries.
In the coming months, further legislative attention will be paid to the financial sector including insurance and related areas designed to strengthen the various sectors and enhance international competitiveness.
It is remarkable that the promoters from all member countries of WAICA (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Gambia) have been able to sign up to a single memorandum and articles of association. This speaks to the already known fact that there is so much common ground between us. The bonds are only likely to become stronger as we deepen our shared political, business and economic culture, and as the sub region forges ahead.
With the establishment of the WAICA Re, we see numerous benefits to the sub region including:a. Development of desperately needed sub regional reinsurance capacity including human capital development; b. Greater retention of foreign currency earnings in the sub region which should be substantial by any measure; c. Greater investment in the sub region; d. Improved Risk Management; e. Enhanced Regionalization/Economic Integration; f. Increased Technical Cooperation & Training; g. Taking the lead in the implementation of international best practice in reinsurance; h. Increased level of innovation.
Furthermore, our hope is that WAICA will deepen its relationship within the sub region. Personally, I would like to see the shares of the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC traded on the stock exchanges of member countries. Apart from providing usual benefits associated with a stock exchange listing, the symbolism would be enormous as it would signal the further economic integration of the sub region. As a government, we hope that the Board of WAICA Re and the various regional stock exchanges will begin to think about timing of such a floatation which would be a matter entirely for them.
To conclude, let me exhort the new WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC to pursue the opportunities within the sub region quite aggressively, especially in the emerging areas of oil and gas and major growth areas such as infrastructure development. However, let me also warn that not all modern fashions in the world of finance should be taken as gospel. During the recent global financial crises, our economies were adversely affected insofar as real growth rates were lower than they would have been, but none of the sub regional economies have been in recession. I am sure that this would not have been the case, had we in the sub region followed some of the modern high leverage/debt models which have proved so disastrous in other countries. The business of insurance is insurance and that means providing security. The insurance industry is here to manage risk not create new ones. This is not to de-cry modernity and progress but to indicate that some basic facets of good business never change.
On that note, let me once again congratulate WAICA, its members, advisers and all who have played a part in the birth of this new institution, the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC.
On behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone and West Africa, I hereby declare the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”.
I thank you for your attention.
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