Kigali, 4 June 2014
Thank you for the invitation to join you at the end of your gathering, which I trust has been fruitful.
Thank you, also, for choosing to hold your conference in Rwanda. It is our privilege to host you.I wish to welcome you once again, even though I know my countrymen and women did so at the time you arrived. I hope you have enjoyed your visit as much as we have enjoyed having you here in our country.
To an outsider, insurance seems like a highly abstract and technical field.There is perhaps no other industry where there is a wider gap between public understanding and the critical importance your services play in our daily lives, usually invisibly.
But underneath the spreadsheets and financial tables, insurance is actually about people, about their deepest hopes and fears.
That is surely what drew you to your profession, among others, and sustains your commitment to it.
Without insurance we cannot drive cars, or build infrastructure, or provide healthcare, without serious concerns. Without insurance, every risk is magnified. A person can literally lose everything.
Insurance makes life less scary by providing a safety net beyond what the state alone could ever offer. In pursuing your vocation as underwriters — which includes producing a return for your shareholders — you free up the insured to be more productive, entrepreneurial, and future-minded.
With incomes rising in most African countries in recent years, more wealth is being created. As people acquire more, they have more to protect.
This is something everyone can relate to — from the farmer seeking to protect herself from crop failure, to the entrepreneur who dreams of expanding his business, to the parents determined to secure an education for their children, and to the children worried about medical care for their parents.
Therefore, as you have surely discussed, the low penetration of insurance products in Africa is both a challenge and an opportunity — the untapped potential for innovation is huge, and so is the scope for increased public-private partnership.
The growth of insurance and financial services in Africa is an important indicator of the continent’s maturing economy. It is a service sector based on knowledge, skills, and technology.
Value is created in Africa, by African professionals, and it remains here.
In Rwanda as in many other African countries, the greater portion of foreign investment in the financial sector, including insurance, already comes from elsewhere on the continent. This demonstrates our growing confidence in Africa’s future, which in turn enhances our attractiveness globally.
In the last decade, financial empowerment has moved to the centre of the development policy agenda. Innovations in banking and mobile payments have brought millions of Africans into the financial system for the first time, creating new pathways to prosperity.
Yet the role of insurance in financial inclusion is still too often an afterthought.
In the next decade, this must change.
The research and technology vision that you advanced during this conference will help drive this change.
Let us continue to work together, as governments and as companies, all across our beautiful continent, pooling our know-how and resources, until your products and services are within the reach of every family in Africa.
This conference is now closing, but our work is not done. We are counting on your input to set and continue the important agenda.
Before I wish each of you a safe journey home, I want to once again say that I wanted to be with you right at the beginning of this conference, but was not available. Because of the importance I attached to your presence here and the agenda you have been discussing, I thought I would not let you go back home without physically being here to say thank you directly.
Again, each of you should consider yourself one of us. You are most welcome to come back anytime, all the time.
Thank you very much for your attention.