West African Insurance Association (WAICA) joins sustainable insurance initiative

The West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) is the latest insurance association to sign the Nairobi Declaration on Sustainable Insurance (NDSI), joining a further 157 companies and associations in becoming Signatories to the Declaration.

Eddie Efekoha, President of WAICA, whose members include insurers and institutions from the five English-speaking West African countries of Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria, signed the Declaration in a ceremony during the association’s annual general meeting and education conference in Banjul, the Gambia, on 22nd April.

The NDSI is a commitment by African insurance industry leaders to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and was formally launched at the UNEP PSI’s 4th Africa summit hosted by ICEA LION Group in Nairobi in April 2021. The signing by Monday Utomwen, Chief Risk Officer at WAICA Reinsurance Corporation, which was originally set up by WAICA to address the lack of reinsurance capacity in the region, and lead of the Taxonomy Working Group of the NDSI, told the delegates gathered from across anglophone West Africa that the risks facing populations, together with their insurance industries, are mounting.

He pointed out how the dial has changed, as witnessed by the World Economic Forum’s annual risk report. Back in 2019, he said, the top concern was about extreme weather risks, now the conversation has turned to failure to mitigate climate change risks. Failure of climate change adaptation has now risen to second of the climate related risks, according to WEF, said Utomwen. He urged delegates to take action and to sign the NDSI so that the industry could harmonise its efforts and tackle the climate change risks together.

Zillah Malia, Senior Manager, Climate Finance at FSD Africa with particular responsibility for the NDSI, added her voice, saying that it was imperative that more insurers join the NDSI to allow for greater collaboration. She also welcomed WAICA to NDSI, saying that associations would give greater numbers of insurers access to the sustainable insurance conversation.

Utomwen also stressed that the NDSI is for everyone, including those with oil and gas related business on their books. The key, he said, was that insurers started conversations with their clients about the transition journey. He also pointed out that international interests and investors would increasingly be asking questions about the transition journey and would expect their African insurance counterparts to be taking some visible action – something that the NDSI could offer them through learnings and shared experiences.