The National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, is intensifying its efforts to deepen Islamic financial services as part of the national agenda to improve financial inclusion.

As part of its strategy, the Commission has entered into partnership with Islamic Finance Service Board (IFSB) based in Malaysia and also arranged trainings by bringing in experts to train its operators and staff in the field of Islamic financial services.

The Commissioner of insurance Mohammed Kari gave this hint at the 2018 National Insurance Conference with theme ‘Insurance Industry and Financial Inclusion’ held in Abuja.

Kari noted that the timing of the Conference could not have been more auspicious than now, especially as the sector is prepared to launch the Nigerian Insurance Industry Development Plan (NIIDP) with financial inclusion as one of its major components.

The insurance industry regulator disclosed that work on the NIIDP had been concluded with inputs from KPMG, a consulting firm, which will also independently monitor the Plan’s implementation to ensure each segment of the market perform their assigned responsibilities.

According to him, the plan has been presented to the Insurers Committee, a body comprising management of NAICOM, CEOs of insurance companies and heads of insurance trade associations and the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) to ensure every player in the industry is carried along.

Kari commended the market committee and KPMG on the quality of the NIIDP, noting that financial inclusion is premised on the principles of equity in form of social cohesion and bridging the gap in income equality and inclusive economic growth & development.

He described financial inclusion as a global agenda which has different dimensions since countries and institutions are wont to develop models that will best suit their peculiar environments, adding that irrespective of the jurisdiction, the general consensus seems to be that financial exclusion is one of the main causes of poverty in the world.

Kari explained: “How the insurance sector in Nigeria could effectively and efficiently navigate this turn to increase the number of policyholders while reducing the figure of the financially excluded, are part of what the NIIDP contain.

“The strategic initiatives and implementation plans of the NIIDP notwithstanding, we have dedicated this forum to financial inclusion for an opportunity to listen to speakers and discussants with divergent views and opinions so as to improve on what we already have”, the commissioner added.

The NAICOM boss also explained that to ensure the sector explored the maximum advantage of the benefits on offer under Index Based Agricultural Insurance, IBAI, the Commission, in collaboration with the World Bank Group – the Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the African Reinsurance Corporation (African-Re) organised series of training for operators, regulators and end-users.

According to him, the two of such training were held in Abuja and Lagos already which had in attendance representatives of Federal Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, CBN, NIRSAL, insurers and NAICOM, amongst others

He pointed out that the initiatives had been supported by the liberalisation of distribution channels and the current attempt to restructure insurance service provision in the country.

The industry regulator said: “On June 01, this year, the insurance sector kicked off a rebranding campaign aimed at creating awareness on the benefits inherent in the demand for insurance products.

“The campaign is a three (3) year project that will be delivered in phases. We believe the industry will be able to reach Nigerians who are hitherto unreached and thus have no access to insurance in every nook and cranny of the country”, Kari added.