The Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) have recently dedicated a whole week, 19 – 25th February, to increase the general public’s understanding of insurance and insurance policies so as to showcase the crucial and potential roles that the industry plays economic development.
A series of activities were held as part of the Insurance Awareness Week geared towards drawing the public’s attention to the noble profession of insurance in order to contribute in providing better understanding of basic insurance and to develop public interest on insurance so as to pave way for a more insurance responsive public.
This is among the many steps that the IAG have taken towards erasing the poor public image that the Gambia insurance industry has been suffering from over the years despite the critical roles that it plays in economic development.
The weeklong event focus attention on creating improved public relations and offers the general public the opportunity to be part of the IAG’s educational activities from dynamic lectures and presentations on various issues about insurance in the country.
On Monday, the first day of the event, the insurance practitioners held a ‘sponsored walk’ that started at the branch of the International Insurance Company at Kairaba Avenue, going through Westfield to Serrekunda and ended at the head office of the Gambia National Insurance Company on Kairaba Avenue, where statement was delivered by the secretary general of the IAG, Mr Jawo.
The sponsored walk was meant to create awareness to the public that insurance is also around and it is useful “to take protection for yourself, your property or anything that is of value to you”.
On Tuesday, the IAG launched its website – www.iag.gm – designed to provide information to the general public about the association and the operations of insurance and insurance policies.
After several unsuccessful attempts over the years, the IAG is now represented on the ‘World Wide Web’, which allows information dissemination to a wider audience both in and out of the country.
According to Mr Dawda Sarge, president of the IAG, the website is more functional and the content more au fait with the technology-driven environment that we are living in today. The website was developed and designed by New Century Limited, a newly established Gambian-owned ICT consulting firm.
Mr Sarge said: “The website is not only going to be for domestic consumption, it’s going to be worldwide and it’s also going to be connected to social networking website like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc, because we want to disseminate information that we have as far and wide as possible.”
For Mr Henry Jawo, executive secretary of the IAG, launching the website is an achievement that the ‘association is very proud of’. “We were proud because we are launching the website to avail our member companies the opportunities to sell themselves and their products, and feed the insuring public about the insurance products available and about the industry in general,” he said.
The website is a very useful link between the association, stakeholders in the economy, policymakers, and the outside world including insuring public, such that both can share information and establish communication channels that will enable us to achieve the very useful mission that has been charged to the IAG, which is to create and maintain a closer cooperation between members and provide a forum to resolve matters of mutual interest leading to the promotion of insurance education to avail the insuring public the best of services for their benefit thereby contributing to national development.
On Wednesday, officials of the Gambia insurance industry converged at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul to discuss the roles of the industry on the recently launched Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), Gambia national development plan for the period 2012-2015.
The seminar was held to discuss the insurance industry’s role in the effective implementation and success of the PAGE.
The main purpose of the lecture is to deliberate on a specific subject that impact on the insurance industry explained Mr Sarge, who is also the managing director of Prime Insurance Company Limited. “That being the case, I believe we can all agree that nothing will have more impact on the insurance industry and indeed other sectors of the economy than the Gambia Government’s development and investment programme for the period 2012 to 2015,” he said.
The main objective of the PAGE is to significantly increase the welfare of the Gambians through accelerated and sustained economic growth and employment creation by the year 2015. It’s constructed around five main pillars and each one has got very explicit priority actions to enable government roll-out its development strategy during the period 2012 – 2015.
However, Mr Sarge takes a quick look at two of these pillars and “how they create and opportunity for the insurance industry to participate”.
The first, he said, is accelerating and sustaining economic growth by strengthening the main sources of economic growth such as the agriculture sector.
The PAGE informs us that in terms of employment, agriculture is the most pro-poor sector in the Gambia’s economy, accounting for 70% of jobs in 2010. It is also the country’s main source of income and plays an important role in reducing poverty through the generation of farmers’ incomes and improving food security among other socio-economic benefits.”
Mr Sarge pointed out that a serious crop failure has a cascading effect, which can ultimately lead to serious repercussions for the entire community. Therefore, he said, as risk carriers, the role of insurance is to provide the required security for the operators in this sector in order to strengthen productivity.
Agricultural insurance is widely recognised as an efficient instrument and a better mechanism with which to handle problems associated with crop failure such as drought and flood rather than the provision of ad hoc aid or disaster relief.
The second pillar of the PAGE, Mr Sarge highlighted was that of reinforcing social protection. He said although there are plausible social protection schemes in the country, the government stills desires to strengthen these by enabling people to protect themselves from risk and other possible interruptions or loss of income that could impact their lives.
He explained that investing in social protection will create a virtuous circle of improve productivity and vocation within the economy. One such investment that readily comes to mind is the provision of a nation-wide health insurance scheme, not only for public servants, but for entire citizenry.
In his PowerPoint presentation, Mr Samba Jallow, a representative from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, told the insurance practitioners that the principal thrust of PAGE offers opportunities to the insurance Industry.
For Mr Ahaotus Festus Chukwuma, managing director of Capital Express Assurance Company Limited, the insurance industry can contribute to evaluating the achievement of PAGE by reducing vulnerability and uncertainty; the industry can devise packages that will allow a majority of Gambian people gain access to basic services in a sustainable manner.
Thursday was the annual general meeting of the association in which members discussed achievements and challenges over the previous year and chart a new way forward. The meeting brought together all member companies of the IAG to discussed issues of common concern geared towards building a very vibrant insurance industry for the common good of all.
On Friday, the fifth day of the weeklong campaign, the association organized a football match at Manjai football field.
Saturday, final day of the weeklong campaign, was the annual dinner of the IAG.
These weeklong events mark a quantum leap by the IAG towards the fulfillment of its aim and objective of “promoting the development of insurance services and to provide insurance education with a view of increasing awareness to enhance the public image of the industry”.