From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

In Sierra Leone the National Insurance Company Excels
By Juliet Ansumana
Aug 7, 2007, 19:58

National Insurance Company Doles Le 250M to Government and Focuses on Service Improvement

onal Insurance Company (NIC) held its 27th Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Friday, 3rd August 2007, the Managing Director, Mr. Yaskie has indicated that despite the increase in volume of the company’s transactions the number of its employed staff will still remain the same.

Chairman of Board N I C: Peter Kuyembeh

According to the Managing Director, the company has grown and expanded significantly, as its presence is now being effectively felt in most provincial headquarter towns around the country including; Makeni (Bombali District), Koidu (Kono District). He noted that training of staff has being a major development activity in the company during the period under review and assured of the company’s continuity in that regard.

Speaking on what have been achieved by the National Insurance Company in terms of staff training, which he noted the company had embarked on seriously, the Managing Director indicated that the company has sponsored three of its staff for a one-year Residential Middle Management course at the West African Insurance Institute in Banjul, the Gambia, and with pleasure reported that all three were successful in their exams.

"During the year under review a number of our employees also attended external course in Nigeria and Ghana. Two Middle Management staff benefited from courses organized by Reinsurance Companies in Nigeria. Another management staff of the Accounts Department attended a course in the operations of Stock Market organized by the Bank of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the West African Institute of Financial Economic Management (WAIFEM) based in Accra, Ghana," the Managing Director disclosed.

Still on the improvement of the staff’s performance in ensuring quality and reliable services to their clients, the NIC Managing Director further disclosed that a number of other staff members have also attended course at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), University of Sierra Leone, while two other staff members in the Internal Audit Department also attended a course in Internal Auditing organized by ‘SARANTE’ a local professional training body.

"We shall continue to ensure the loyalty and dedication of our staff with sustainable development programmes and welfare packages commensurate to the industry standards in this country," the Managing Director assured, and expressed hope that by this step, it "will ensure valuable resource base is positioned for future succession and in meeting the challenges in the industry in the years ahead."

Alhaji Kakay MD of Commercial Bank

On Dividend, the MD pointed out that the National Insurance Company (NIC) is always keen to provide adequate compensation to the sole Shareholder, the Government of Sierra Leone on a regular and consistent basis. He disclosed in this regard that in 2005, the company awarded a dividend of Le 250 million to its Shareholder. "This was based on a pre-tax profit of Le 420.236 million," he said.

Based on the performance of the company in the year under review according to the MD, the Directors have recommended that the same amount (i.e. Le 250m) be paid as dividend to government, the only Shareholder.

"Directors of the view that this return should be considered reasonable given the state of the economy, the high operational costs and other constraints," the MD pointed out.

He however assured that things will improve in the ensuing year so that the company will be in a better position to give higher dividend to its Shareholder.

On Branch Development, Mr. Yaskie disclosed that the company has finally succeeded in the acquisition of land in Makeni, in the Bombali District for the construction of a Branch Office in that township to consequently serve the entire district. He also disclosed of efforts to acquire similar piece of land in Koidu Town, Kono District and expressed hope that with the support of the local authorities this will be finalized this year.

"The Branch Offices and outlets are part of the company’s consolidation effort and they are all positioned as distribution channels and moreover to take advantage of any growth potentials in the economy," Mr. Yaskie affirmed.

On the company’s outlook for 2007, the NIC Managing Director acknowledged, "The year 2007 will undoubtedly be as challenging as 2006," pointing out that the visible challenges of a national economy in transition will continue to have an impact on the company.

According to the MD, the current state of the economy characterized by "a lack of confidence and a wait and see posture adopted by the business community will also be a serious challenge to the company," he noted, pointing out further that the situation is further compounded by some insurance companies which have the capacity to undercut the established tariffs thereby reducing revenue and profitability.

Notwithstanding these however, the NIC Managing Director assured that the NIC will "adopt an aggressive marketing posture" in order to diversify its products and thus enhance its chances of winning bigger corporate clients.

"We are well positioned to continue our efforts in strengthening and consolidating our position in the insurance industry in this country," the MD assured.

He also mentioned that effective strategies would be implemented to market the existing products especially the Medical Schemes and the International Travel Insurance, which provides cover for a traveler abroad in respect of medical expenses, hospitalization and ancillary expenses also accepted by Shenghen countries for the issuance of their visas.

Continuous emphasis, he noted, will be placed on customer relationship and care. In this regard, the MD pointed out also that a robust customer care drive will be effected to ensure that old accounts are maintained and properly serviced.

On information technology, the MD disclosed that there will be additional investment in the company’s information technology in order to further improve its customer service, better management information system, efficient back office support so that the company cam enhance the retention of its customers and expand the delivery of its products and services. He disclosed that "with the bespoken software application now in operation" the company hopes to pursue "a material reduction in manual processing in order to improve on our value chain through a significant automation of both front and back office activities," he further assured. Staff training in this regard, he noted will be intensified o ensure professional approach in the handling of these new technology.

On the possibility of privatization, Mr. Yaskie noted, the company is poised to adequately cope with the expected challenges and requirements, and therefore pledged to cooperate fully with the National Commission for Privatization towards the successful implementation of the said project.

However, Mr. Yaskie highlighted further challenges faced by the company to include, the credit control, the high volume of outstanding premiums and the huge surrenders of privately insured pension schemes which will require some major strategic moves on the part of the company.

The National Insurance Company according to the Managing Director will continue to make donations to the less fortunate in society as part of its corporate social responsibility. He also assured that the company shall also give active support to the Government’s effort in alleviating poverty and reducing youth unemployment in the country.

The MD on behalf of the Directors expressed special appreciation to Government for its continued support and for nurturing a stable political environment and a conducive investment climate for the company to operate, and also expressed gratitude for the "invaluable guidance and supervision from the Chairman and members of the National Commission for Privatization.

The MD also on behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of the NIC expressed "deep sense of appreciation" to their "valued customers" for their continued support.

He also paid tribute to what he called "the high level of cooperation and support" from the company’s International Reinsurance Brokers, CKRe Limited of London, United Kingdom and the company’s lead reinsurers, Munich Reinsurance Company and African Reinsurance Corporation.

The MD also paid special tribute and appreciation to the hard work, tenacity and professionalism exhibited by its staff during the year under review, expressing hope that the company looks forward to their continued commitment as they move towards another challenging year.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.