As the Federation of Afro-Asian Insurers & Reinsurers (FAIR) prepares to host its biennial conference in Bahrain from 9 to 10 October, we bring you the highlights of the last FAIR meeting in Cairo where members were urged to cooperate more closely to develop the Afro-Asian insurance markets for the future.
FAIR has been dedicated to the promotion of regional cooperation and the development of the (re)insurance industry in the Afro-Asian region since its establishment in 1964. The organisation now has 255 members from 52 countries.
The association hosted its 24th Conference in Cairo in 2015 with the theme, “Building on 50 Years of Regional Cooperation” as the conference coincided with FAIR celebration of its 50th anniversary.
Call to boost Afro-Asian relationship
Giving the opening speech, Mr Ashraf Salman, Egypt’s Minister of Investment, called on Afro-Asian markets to cooperate through legislation and regulatory reforms. He also urged the larger markets to support the smaller ones in the region. “Companies and institutions should take greater efforts to develop the markets for the future by adopting ambitious plans which will lead to increased growth rates,” said Mr Salman.
In this regard, FAIR has taken major steps to boost partnership and cooperation between the Asian and African continents from where most of its members hail. “FAIR has made great contributions to the development of the insurance and reinsurance industries in Asia and Africa,” said Mr Ren Xiaobing, Vice President of China Re Group. “We should be proud of what we have achieved, and we should be more confident about what we can achieve in the future,” he added, speaking of how the influence of the Afro-Asian region was increasing and the key role of organisations like FAIR have in building mutual trust and cooperation in the region.
FAIR has evolved with the times to meet the needs of its members, and includes in its achievements the setting up of four pools and four forums and societies. “The world is changing and we need to embrace the future by getting ever more innovative,” said Dr Adel Mounir, Secretary General of FAIR.
Emerging markets in Asia and Africa, which contributed 17% of global premiums, are going to play a leading role in driving the (re)insurance markets worldwide, with the rising affluence and urbanisation in Africa and Asia expected to drive demand for insurance, participants were told.
Mr Parijat Dutta, General Manager of India’s GIC Re, highlighted the need for countries to put in place risk mitigation measures that will keep pace with economic growth. “There is a significant protection gap in the region and to address this, there needs to be a regulatory push and also investments in technology and talent,” he added.
The Afro-Asian (re)insurance industry is also experiencing an unprecedented period of change, with the advent of digital technology, mobile connectivity and the social media.
“Digitalisation of the insurance industry has helped reduce costs,” said Mr Seelan Naidoo, Head of Engineering with Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, South Africa. He outlined how social media and the emergence of powerful social networks are leading to innovation in distribution, saying the insurance industry needs to adjust to an ever increasing digital age to provide solutions that meet the needs of consumers.
However, with excess capacity and strong competition in the region, (re)insurers also need to find innovative ways to do business and service customers. In addition, they were urged to support and cooperate in the areas of technology and establish a database, while there was call for FAIR to support its members in the areas of innovation and technological development.
The 2015 FAIR Conference had attracted over 850 delegates, representing 300 companies from 51 countries. A