Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Arunma Oteh has said that a focus on insurance can transform the Nigerian economy.
Oteh, who spoke during a television programme, “Eye on Nigeria’s Capital Market” on CNBC Africa, monitored in Abuja, said the insurance sector had often been instrumental to the growth of several economies in the world.
According to the SEC boss: “With a market of 170 million people, the market has enormous potentials, especially as reforms take hold with respect to group life insurance and other pension related products.
“I think the focus on micro insurance is exciting because one of the challenges of our country is that not as many of the 170 million people participate in the economy and I believe that helping us to understand micro insurance better is important.
“What we want is for Nigerians to be able to participate in the economy and I believe that micro insurance is absolutely essential in that regard. If we do not focus on micro insurance, we will not transform our society.
“We believe that as SEC, the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, the transformation in the insurance sector is critical for the transformation of Nigeria. I think that even though we have had the insurance industry existing for several years, people do not realise the importance of insurance to our lives, whether it is in agriculture or housing or other sectors. The housing sector in America was strengthened because of mono line insurance, because of credit enhancement that insurance provides,” she explained.
According to her, insurance had become critical for better living conditions including health insurance, which permeates society.
The DG said the insurance industry provides domestic instruments that are investor based and can assist Nigerians participate in the capital market.
“The industry is replete with opportunities for the investing public. Present reforms in the power sector, the oil and gas sector as well as housing sector are clearly an opportunity for products to support these sectors” she said.
She expressed delight with technological innovations, which she said have assisted people to be able to reach insurance companies and purchase products that are relevant to them.
Oteh also commended the Commissioner for Insurance/Chief Executive, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mr. Fola Daniel, for the transformation in the industry.
She said NAICOM’s compulsory insurance policy meant that premium would rise and become investible assets in the capital market.
“Those investible assets will enable us as the capital market to also contribute to transforming the economy. What we expect is that the results of these reforms that we are seeing will lead us to having insurance entities become very well recognised institutional investors. Some of the large institutional investors around the world are insurance companies and we are not seeing that yet in Nigeria, but it is going to happen,” she added.