A new era has dawned for the Inter-African Conference on Insurance Markets (CIMA) with a new secretary general taking up office on 27 April 2021.
Cameroonian Mr Blaise Ezo'o Engolo was elected last December to the top job at the regulator of the insurance sector in West and Central Africa, but officially took office last week, reported Financial Afrik.
The new secretary general has a well-defined roadmap, which consists essentially of continuing structural reforms.
One priority is seeing to the increase in share capital of insurance companies from FCFA3bn ($5.5m) to FCFA5bn that is to be met by the end of this month.
In accordance with a decision taken by the regulator in 2016, mutual insurers were granted a period of three years to increase their share capital from FCFA800m to a minimum of FCFA3bn while public limited companies had five years to increase their share capital of FCFA1bn to a minimum of FCFA5bn. The insurers were allowed to increase the minimum capital in stages, that is, by 31 May 2019, insurance mutuals were to have increased their capital to at least FCFA2bn and insurance companies were to increase their minimum capital from FCFA1bn to FCFA3bn.
In addition to these provisions, insurance companies were ordered to have additional own funds greater than or equal to 80% of the share capital.
However, insurance companies under the CIMA umbrella have found it difficult to comply with the new capitalisation requirements, a situation that calls for clarification by the regulator about how insurers are to sustain operations.
According to reliable information, the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit business activity has led insurance companies to lobby the regulator to suspend the implementation of the capitalisation requirements at the risk of falling insolvent. Several insurers are campaigning for the regulator to stay the minimum share capital at FCFA3bn.
Mr Engolo will also have to improve transparency in the insurance sector since insurers manage public savings but do not publish their accounting reports.
Before his election as the secretary-general of CIMA, Mr Engolo was the director of insurance at Cameroon's Ministry of Finance.