Government of Ghana Domestic Debt Exchange: Potential Financial Sector Impacts and Mitigating Safeguards

Government of Ghana Domestic Debt Exchange: Potential Financial Sector Impacts and Mitigating Safeguards

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) says it is working with its partners to improve access to insurance products and services to promote financial inclusion and to make life better for many more Ghanaians.

Since 2010, the NIC has been working to develop an inclusive insurance regime in Ghana, with technical and financial assistance from the German development Cooperation (GIZ) and support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Several initiatives have been taken to propel the development of the inclusive insurance market. Addressing stakeholders in the insurance industry at a validation workshop in Accra, Acting Commissioner of Insurance, Mr Michael Kofi Andoh said the NIC and its partners were seeking to identify gaps and opportunities in the work done so far by the team.

Mr. Andoh noted that “the focus of insurance has been on white and blue colour employees and people who receive salaries and operate bank accounts but the majority of our people are petty traders, farmers, masons, carpenters they operate in the informal sector and so if we leave the insurance the way it is, in the conventional space then most of our people will not have access to insurance; it is not that they don’t need insurance but they don’t have access to it due to the way it is structured and that’s where the inclusive insurance conversation comes in.”
Over the past years, the Commission had made preparations towards the planned increase in access, some of which were building the capacity of insurers, and regulatory changes.

Mr. Andoh recalled that the NIC had given the requisite training to insurance companies and ensured the creation of products that meet the needs of the market.

Deputy Resident Representative at UNDP, Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov intimated that the UNDP supported the organization of the workshop because, “insurance in general is very important for any country, particularly for Ghana and it is more important taking into account the issue of disasters.”

He noted that insurance was critical for farmers in the wake of the impact of climate change so when farmers are insured against drought or flood they will be able to sustain their businesses and livelihoods.

“Inclusive insurance will play a vital role as a catalyst for social and economic development while promoting financial inclusion and safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable populations,” he added.
The partners are confident of coming up with an inclusive insurance regulatory strategy and roadmap which will rope in the informal sector, ensuring the desired financial inclusivity.

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) is in the process of implementing a market conduct supervisory framework to help improve the fair treatment of customers by insurance firms.
The acting Commissioner of Insurance, Michael Kofi Andoh, said as part of the framework, the NIC would soon issue a directive of conduct of business for insurance institutions.
He said the directive would deal with regulatory requirements on issues such as product requirements and policy holder cancellation rights, provision and disclosure of policy information, claims processing and complaints requirements as well as requirements on the appointment and training of agents.

Annual Conference
Mr. Andoh was speaking at the opening ceremony of the ninth annual educational conference and exhibition of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ghana (IBAG) in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region last Wednesday, March 20, 2024.
The four-day event, being attended by 230 insurance practitioners of companies as well as key industry stakeholders, was on the theme: “Building a consistent customer service culture: A tool for increasing insurance penetration”.
For example, he stressed that the directive would require all insurance companies to develop and publish service level standards on claims and complaints and to display a summary of their claims payment and complaint resolution procedures in every branch, contact and agency office.

Pivotal Role
He underscored the pivotal role of customer service culture in driving insurance penetration, saying “indeed, building a consistent customer service culture is not merely a desirable trait but an essential tool for expanding the reach of insurance services to previously underserved communities”.
He said to achieve meaningful progress in increasing insurance penetration, companies must adopt a multi-faceted approach that addresses the diverse needs and challenges facing the insurance public. “This could entail leveraging technology to enhance accessibility, tailoring products to suit needs and preferences, simplifying policies, enhancing transparency and prioritizing customer complaints” he said.

Trust
He added that it was incumbent upon stakeholders in the insurance industry to cultivate a culture of trust, transparency and integrity in interactions with customers towards enhancing their operations.
He stressed that by prioritisng the needs of clients and delivering satisfactory service at every touchpoint, it can instill confidence in the value proposition of insurance and foster long-term relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

Outcome of survey
The President of IBAG, Shaibu Ali, said one of the key reasons for low insurance penetration was bad customer service, stressing “in the recently published survey of the Ghana customer service index, the industry took the last position”.
He noted that the industry’s abysmal performance in the customer service survey should be an issue of great concern for the players towards changing the status quo to improve the sector.

Registration of Members
The President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana (CIIG), Solomon Lartey, said as a means of weeding out charlatans from the industry, the CIIG was compiling a list of all insurance professionals in the country.
He added “this will enable us to have a database of all professionals as well as fish out non-professionals whose practices and conduct pose serious threat to the very existence of the industry”.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, urged them to continuously uphold the highest standards of professionalism to build trust and confidence among the public to shape the future of the insurance industry.
He said “customers are the life-blood of every business as the happier and confident they are with services, the higher the patronage towards improving the economy”.

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) launched the Complaints Management System (CMS) where policyholders can access the online system meant to enhance client satisfaction in the insurance industry.

The objective of the Complaints Management System is to enhance fair customer treatment through an automated, seamless, interactive and easy process that allows the public to have real time access to the NIC without physically being present at any of its offices across the country. The Complaints Management System went live on 1st of February, 2024.

In his keynote address and declaration of the software launch, the Acting Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Michael Kofi Andoh called on insurance companies to have systems in place to attend to clients’ needs. This will definitely result in ultimate client satisfaction and trust among members of the insuring public. He also mentioned “when people lodge their complaints and they don’t hear anything [from insurance companies], we don’t tell them anything, they go and come, some of them travel from their villages and come every day and they don’t seem to get any response from anybody, and you see, it gives us such a bad image”, he bemoaned. He also indicated that notwithstanding the introduction of the CMS, policyholders can go to someone high up in the particular insurance company for the needed attention to be paid to them. “Chief Executive Officers of insurance companies and intermediaries are to be responsive to utilize the system to their benefit”, he urged.

In his remarks, the Chairman of Insurance Awareness Coordinators’ Group (IACG), Mr. Wilson Tei stated that most of the complaints made by policyholders are minor issues which could have been resolved easily if such complaints got to higher levels of insurance companies rather than leaving customer service in the hands of front desk officers. This trend therefore undermines the quality of service that insurance companies are supposed to provide.

The CMS can be accessed through the Commission’s website via www.nicgh.org or www.niccomplaintshub.com. After a complaint is submitted, a complainant receives a system-generated text message containing a ticket number. Complainants will have real time notification of the stage of their claims and complaint.

The Acting Commissioner of Insurance, Michael Kofi Andoh, has paid a two-day working visit to the Western Region.
He led the Takoradi Area Office of the National Insurance Commission (NIC) and, in conjunction with the Ghana Insurance College, educated police commanders and officers at the Western Central region, Tarkwa.

The Ag. Commissioner led the Commission to also donate items including reflective jackets, body bags, hand gloves, and nose masks to the Command to aid their work in protecting life and properties.

The National Insurance Commission together with the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service also embarked on an exercise to clamp down on drivers who possess fake motor insurance stickers or do not have motor insurance at all at a section in Tarkwa as part of its sensitization and enforcement activities on the Motor Insurance Database.

The Commission is mandated to ensure effective administration, supervision, regulation, monitoring, and control of the business of insurance to protect policyholders and the insurance industry.

This exercise was very successful as most vehicles had valid motor insurance.
Ag. Commissioner of Insurance Michael Kofi Andoh, noted that most people drive on the roads with no insurance for their vehicles.
“Others drive with fake motor insurance stickers. We cannot count the number of people who have suffered from being victims of a motor crash with fake motor insurance or uninsured vehicles,” he noted.

He pointed out that every family in Ghana may have one victim from a motor accident in Ghana in one way or another.
“People have lost parents, children, siblings, and other relatives through a motor crash. Where will these people receive compensation from?” he asked.
“Some of these people were also breadwinners for their families and their deaths bring huge costs to the nation.”

The Western Regional Manager of the National Insurance Commission, Justice Peprah Agyei, also explained: “The motor third-party insurance cover pays on behalf of the insured or the driver in respect of a legal liability to third parties resulting from an accident caused by his or her vehicle.”

According to him, the third-party policy covers the death of or bodily injury to any person, and/or damage to property belonging to someone other than the insured; and then the death of or bodily injury to a member of the insured’s household or any other occupants.
Also, he said, the policy pays compensation to the driver for bodily injury or death.
Mr. Agyei Peprah also encouraged passengers to always check the validity or authenticity of motor insurance before they board by dialing this shortcode (*920*57#) on their phone. This service is free on all networks.

He also gave a humble appeal to the driver unions not to allow any vehicle without insurance to load passengers from the terminals.

The Tarkwa Divisional Police Commander, ACP George Andrews Kumah, who received the donated items on behalf of the Command, thanked the Commission for its support.
He was very happy with the education that was provided.

He again gave the assurance that they are there to make sure the law is enforced to protect lives and properties and that they are always ready to help and collaborate with the National Insurance Commission on its activities and mandate.

The Ag. Commissioner of Insurance also met the insurance industry in both Tarkwa and Takoradi and advised them to be fully committed to their mandate of paying claims on time.

He also had some public engagement through radio.
Mr. Kofi Andoh ended with a quote that, Insurance is a parachute.
“If you do not get it when you need it, it is not of any importance again.”
This he meant to tell the public that, they should have insurance in place before something or an unfortunate event occurs.

Ghana is currently hosting the latest key effort toward the integration of West Africa’s insurance industry within the overall framework of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ). The ongoing step is the 6th meeting of the College of Insurance Supervisors of WAMZ, which is being held in Accra from September 7, 2023 to Thursday, September 14. The meeting brings together the top tier regulators of the insurance industry from all WAMZ members – Ghana, Nigeria, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the members of CIMA – the sub-regional grouping of francophone West African countries (excluding Guinea, which is French-speaking but not a member of the CIMA grouping and thus is represented on a sovereign nation basis). WAICA Re, the reinsurance company owned BY THE West African Insurance Companies association, is also being represented at the meeting which Is being attended primarily by the respective insurance commissioners of member-countries although a few countries – such as Nigeria – have sent high powered surrogates instead.

The meeting is discussing ways to harmonize supervisory practices and processes and the different regulatory and prudential parameters applicable across the region. Among other things on the agenda, the meeting will sanction the presentation of the 4th Report of the College of Insurance Supervisors of WAMZ; will seek to develop a level playing field for cross-border activities among member-countries in order to facilitate the integration process, reporting dates, the supervisory functions and practices; and some financial variables that will be adopted by member-states.

Ultimately, the ongoing efforts to integrate the insurance industries of the various West African countries aim to increase insurance penetration across the sub-region, which is still far lower than in most other parts of the world. It is instructive that the insurance industry in Africa represents less than three percent of insured catastrophe losses worldwide although it is home to almost 18 percent of the global population.

Welcoming delegates to the meeting on the opening day, Michael Kofi Andoh, Ghana’s acting Commissioner of insurance, asserted: “The low level of insurance uptake across some parts of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, is a key reason why meetings such as these are pivotal to the growth of insurance in our various jurisdiction.”

In his opening remarks to the delegates at the meeting, souleymane Tall, Director- Financial Integration Department of the West African Monetary Institute (W A M I, expressed appreciation to delegates for their commitment and dedication to the activities of the college, which could clearly to be seen from the progress achieved in terms of uniform reporting template, among others, but warned: “However, we must continue efforts in the option of international standards as well as the automation of our reporting”.

During the meeting, participants will discuss several crucial issues – including the status of timelines for the implementation of regulatory standards; presentation of country reports on insurance sector development; and a representation of a proposal of WAICA Re on its request for special recognition to operate across WAMI’s jurisdiction.

Another key issue to be addressed is WAFEM’s capacity- building task on ‘Consolidated and Group Wide Supervision’ assigned to it at the 5th College Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. Consequently, WAIFEM is being represented at the ongoing meeting where member-countries will present their experiences on building blocks for consolidated and group wide framework, providing an opportunity for members to share their experiences on the best practices.

All the member-countries will present reports on both insurance sector developments in their respective jurisdictions and the status of timelines for the implementation of regulatory standards. Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea will also present their perspectives and experiences on building blocks for consolidated and group wide frameworks.

A keynote address will also be delivered by Dr. Olorunsola Olowofeso, Director-General of WAMI. The final two days of the meeting will be devoted to the presentation of the report of the Technical Committee and the report to the Committee of Governors on the college’s activities respectively.

Ghana’s Acting Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Michael Kofi Andoh has said that 44.6% of working people in Ghana have one form of insurance or the other, up from an initial 29% in 2015.

He reiterated this during the launch of the 19th International Conference on Inclusive Insurance (ICII) to be hosted by Ghana in October. The Conference provides a platform where experts come out with measures and strategies, to help close the insurance gap for the low-income earners and workers in the informal sector.

The conference slated for October 23-27, is being organised by the National Insurance Commission (NIC) in collaboration with the Ghana Insurers Association (GIA), and the Insurance Brokers Association of Ghana (IBAG). The conference is being supported by the Micro Insurance Network and the Munich Re Foundation with partners such as the GIZ and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Acting Commissioner said the conference would discuss topics such as how to help the vulnerable to protect themselves against climate change, gender sensitive insurance, digital solutions for inclusive insurance and the participants would have opportunity to meet the leading authorities on Inclusive Insurance and interact with them.

Over 500 delegates across the world are expected to attend on a platform to share ideas and knowledge on sustainable inclusive insurance.

Inclusive Insurance means the development of insurance products to suit the needs of the low-income earners, the vulnerable and informal sector workers.

Speaking at the launch in Accra, Ghana’s Acting Commissioner of Insurance, Mr. Michael Kofi Andoh, said the conference would be attended by stakeholders in the insurance industry to deliberate on how technology can be deployed to promote inclusive insurance.

He said efforts to close the insurance gap had been complicated by developments such as COVID-19, and climate change, indicating that those events had created negative impact on the poor and low-income earners.

“There is therefore now, more than ever before, the urgent need for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to find sustainable safety nets that enable the vulnerable and the bottom of the pyramid to break out of poverty and live decent safe lives,”

He said Ghana was chosen for the conference because the country had been at the forefront of the ICII since 2009, and in 2011 published the country’s Micro Insurance Regulation and Mobile Insurance Regulations in 2017.

Mr. Andoh appealed to corporate bodies, particularly insurance companies to support the conference to make it a success.

The Resident Country Representative of the UNDP, Dr. Angela Lusigi, said inclusive insurance could serve as a catalyst for social and economic development, while promoting financial inclusion and safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable populations.

She said while disaster risks were on the increase, there was huge protection gap in developing countries, where less than five per cent in high-income countries.

“We have every confidence that his strategic conference will enable experts across the globe to come up with a whole society approach and foster partnerships and resources required to reduce vulnerabilities through the use of inclusive insurance mechanisms”. Dr. Lusigi, adding that the conference would help Ghana to learn from the successes and failures of inclusive insurance market space from other countries.

Representatives of the GIA, IBAG, and the Munich Re Foundation made stakeholder remarks calling on corporate Ghana and insurance entities to sponsor activities lined up for the Conference in October 2023.

The ICII is a global conference that seeks to provide a common platform for a very wide group of stakeholders such as insurers, researchers, academia, policymakers, regulators, development partners, technology firms etc. The conferences are organized for the sharing of ideas and knowledge on sustainable inclusive insurance. The annual conference seeks to find effective ways to close the insurance gap for the uninsured sustainable for providers and beneficial to users.

The hosting of the conference rotates between Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbeans. The inaugural edition was held in 2005. Ghana is the 5th African country to host it after South Africa, Zambia among others hosted it.

The 19th conference to be held in Ghana is expected to include participants from CIMA and FANAF as partners for a good representation of the Francophone countries.

Prof. Justice Ofori, Ghana’s Commissioner of Insurance has admonished all to take insurance education seriously as it is the surest way to ensuring that people willingly purchase insurance and not cajoled into doing so.

“It is important that students especially at the second cycle institutions imbibe the culture of insurance in them. This is an initiative of the National Insurance Commission (NIC) which has culminated in to the launch of a partnership with the Ghana Education Service (GES) in 2020. The partnership is with the view to provide insurance education in a ‘catch-them-young’ approach. When people are educated on insurance in their formative years, they appreciate insurance better when they start their working lives”, he disclosed.

The Commissioner of Insurance made these remarks at the launch of the Ashanti Regional edition of the National Insurance Quiz Competition for Senior High / Technical Schools.

The NIC, which is the insurance regulator seeks to use the quiz competitions to create awareness about Insurance to enable students at this level develop a culture in insurance as a way of life. This would also expose them to making career choices in insurance while advancing in their academic ladder.

The maiden edition of the competition was held at Sunyani for schools in the Bono and Ahafo Regions in 2022, with Sacred Heart SHS emerging as the winner. The Sunyani success story has led to the scaling up of the competition to the Ashanti Region. Prof. Justice Ofori disclosed this would be replicated in the remaining Regions of the country.

Twelve selected schools in the Ashanti Region will battle it out for the bragging rights and the coveted trophy at the National level.

The Regional level competitions will see various winners compete at the national level to determine the eventual winner.

The twelve selected schools in the Ashanti Region to take part in the maiden Insurance Quiz Competition includes Prempeh College, Opoku Ware, St. Louis SHS, Yaa Asantewaa Girls, Osei Kyeretwie SHS and Islamic SHS. The rest are KNUST SHS, Kumasi Anglican SHS, T. I. AMASS, Uthmaniyya SHS, Pentecost SHS and Kumasi High School.

Winners at the regional levels will have the opportunity to compete at the national level competition when they emerge victorious.

Other dignitaries present at the launch were the Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Dr. William Appiah Amankrah, the Ashanti Regional Manager of the NIC, Mr. Farouk Dramani and Heads of Institutions of the twelve selected schools.

In other developments, Prof Justice Ofori commended the Ashanti Regional Police MTTD for supporting the NIC in the discharge of its core mandates. He made the commendations at a workshop he had with the Police MTTD.

He further engaged the Ashanti Regional Insurance Industry players and tasked them to constantly exhibit professionalism in ensuring insurance reaches out to the remotest parts of the Region. The Insurance Regulator, bemoaned the situation where some players had given the industry a bad name due to unacceptable treatment of policyholders leading to mistrust.

His working visit also coincided with the aftermath of the Kejetia market fire. He used the opportunity to educate traders to insure their properties and wares to avoid recurrence of loss of property in such incidents. He also admonished traders not to shy away from taking up insurance as it is the surest way to support their businesses whether small, medium scale or large.

The National Insurance Commission (NIC) has presented quantities of reflector vests, hand gloves and body bags for the Airport Divisional Command of the Ghana Police Service to protect the personnel in their traffic duties. The items comprising 100 reflector vests, 100 body bags and 1000 pairs of hand gloves was to aid the officials of the Airport Motor Traffic and Transport Department in their traffic duties.

Presenting the items to the Airport Divisional Command in Accra on Friday, the Commissioner of Insurance, Professor Dr Justice Ofori, advised motorists to be patient on the road to reduce road crashes in the country. “When drivers are careful on the roads, there would be a more significant reduction in the number of accidents to save lives as “every life matters,” he stated.

The Commissioner of Insurance pledged the Commission’s continuous support to the Police to enable the latter execute its road traffic duties efficiently. “As stakeholders, the Police and the NIC can only work together to help minimise the canker and also to ensure that adequate compensations are paid to affected victims through valid insurance claims,” the Commissioner said.

Prof. Dr. Ofori used the opportunity to commend the leadership of the Ghana Police Service for ensuring that the Motor Insurance Database (MID) was successful.

Receiving the items on behalf of the Airport Divisional MITD, Chief Superintendent John Atanga said he was impressed with the introduction of the MID, an electronic system for checking fake insurance stickers.

Dr. Justice Yaw Ofori, Commissioner of Insurance, has re-echoed the need for property owners to take up Fire Insurance policies to protect their buildings.

“Fire Insurance gives you much protection against any peril, as well as shields anyone who enters or uses your premises” he said.

He noted that some individuals have a foot-dragging attitude when it comes to insurance policy, and such an attitude does not augur well: “Insurance is to guard you against risk”.

“I would encourage owners of public buildings and their occupants to make compulsory Fire Insurance a part of their budget to safeguard lives and property,” he added

Dr. Ofori was speaking at an annual interaction with about 70 journalists from different media houses across the country at Elmina in the Central Region.

The media interaction, which was fourth in the series, seeks to educate participants on the National Insurance Commission’s (NIC) role and issues relating to the insurance sector among others.

The 2023 edition focused on ‘Fire insurance and its economic benefits’.

Dr. Yaw Ofori explained that Fire Insurance covers the property owner’s liability, people who enter the building or individuals who use the building.

“If you are a tenant, you have the right to buy fire insurance in order to protect your belongings,” he said.

He pointed out that any fire claim has to be an accident; it should be an unexpected and unintentional fire – not something that is staged.

“Every claim you make is investigated, so if you lie to get a claim and are caught, you will be found wanting,” he enlightened the media, adding that the Commission will continue to educate the public on the need for a fire insurance policy.

Dr. Yaw Ofori explained further that claims settlement on fire insurance is usually done on bases of repairs, replacement, rebuilding, cheque, or cash payment.

Economic importance of Fire Insurance

According to him, the insurance helps to spread risk and aids security – and ‘removes uncertainty’.

Also, he said, it aids to ‘protect creditors’ investment’ and also serves as capital and premiums in the economy.

“There is uncertainty in life, but once you have insurance you are protected and secured,” he added.

He urged media practitioners to take up life insurance policies, as it provides financial security. Again, he encouraged the media to share the good news about insurance, especially about the need for life insurance policies.

On 5th December 2022, the Government of Ghana launched Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange programme, an invitation for the voluntary exchange of approximately GHS137 billion of the domestic notes and bonds of the Republic, including E.S.L.A. and Daakye bonds, for a package of New Bonds to be issued by the Republic.
The Exchange excludes Treasury Bills in totality, and notes and bonds held by individuals (natural persons).

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