FSD Africa, NAICOM Unveil R3Lab to Mitigate Insurance Regulation Risks
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Financial Sector Deeping Africa (FSD) Africa with the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) on Wednesday launched the Risk, Resilience and Regulatory Laboratory (R3Lab) in Lagos.
The initiative, which was funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Aid, is aimed at mitigating the impact of specific challenges bedevilling the insurance regulatory environment in Nigeria.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Sunday Thomas, Commissioner for Insurance/CEO, NAICOM said that the R3Lab was set up to explore ways in which collaboration, technology and insurance supervisory capacity building can improve the regulatory effectiveness of Africa’s insurance industry.
“We are all aware of the evolving risks in the African economic space such as climate change, pandemics, digitalisation, inadequate understanding and lack of confidence in the insurance sector.
“Also, the need for new strategies to enhance the capabilities of African insurance supervisory authorities to effectively regulate and protect insurance policyholders.
“The R3Lab offers a three-tiered approach towards creating an enabling regulatory environment and equipping the regulator with sound, proportionate and fit-for-purpose practices.
“Risk, Resilience, and Regulation are the key entry points for the R3Lab to build the technical capacity and skills of the regulator on innovation and sustainable insurance,” he said.
According to him, R3Lab will facilitate the design of customised capacity-building programmes and set up peer-to-peer exchange platforms.
It will also set up comprehensive learning toolkits, a resource centre for data collection and reporting, topical task forces, and forums for insurance supervisors in Africa.
Mr Thomas said that the R3Lab platform is the third joint initiative that has been birthed through FSD Africa’s partnership with NAICOM.
He said the first was FSD Africa’s ongoing support in the review of existing regulations, including identifying and articulating the key steps, framework and tools required by NAICOM for Risk-Based Capital (RBC).
The commissioner stated that the support would enable NAICOM to fully implement a scalable RBC framework in Nigeria.
It would also help it develop an innovation framework to fulfil its dual objectives of market development and policyholders’ protection.
“FSD Africa in furtherance of its support to NAICOM and the Nigerian insurance industry officially launched the second project, tagged the BimaLab Insurtech Accelerator in February 2022.
“The platform selects coaches and mentors insurtech firms, granting these firms access to FSD Africa BimaLab Grant Fund in developing innovative business solutions focused on solving compelling economic or social problems.
“I understand 10 selected participants are already undergoing 10 weeks of intensive mentorship and coaching.
”It is my hope that through the commissioning of these projects and platforms, we create an enabling environment for the development of insurance products which address the day-to-day challenges experienced by Nigerians in the face of environmental-related risks,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to FSD Africa for its invaluable support, noting that the availability of better products is likely to result in better service delivery and increase financial returns to investors.
“In recognition of this, NAICOM aims to achieve greater public trust and confidence in the insurance sector through “Innovation, Distribution and Effective/Efficient Service Delivery” which has been the cornerstone of our strategic focus and action,” he said.
In a presentation, Mr Elias Omondi, Senior Manager, Risk Regulations, FSD Africa shed more light on the purpose of the R3Lab.
He said that it is to encourage and facilitate regulatory interactions between insurance regulators across the continent to strengthen their methodologies and develop solutions necessary to create an enabling regulatory environment.
Mr Omondi said that R3Lab was launched for all African countries, but eight within Sub -Sahara Africa were selected as the pioneer beneficiaries of the projects.
These are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda.