Friday, 11 July 2008

Nigerian insurance sector

Amid a poor week in markets the Nigerian Insurance sector was the most active sector by volume, accounting for over 66% (3.83 billion shares) of total turnover of shares in Nigeria. Activity in the sector was driven by trading in the shares of IAINSURE, GNI and LASACO.

The Nigerian insurance market is unique. It has undergone a dramatic chnage. In November 2007 the National Insurance Commission seized control of the largest insurer, NICON. This had only been privatised in 2005. NAICOM ousted its CEO Jimoh Ibrahim, alleging improper conduct. NAICOM's battle with Jimoh Ibrahim is still being fought in the Federal High Court. The drama was played out publically. The offices of NICON were occupied by riot police!

Even in relation to other notoriously corrupt countries where transparency is low, hard numbers on Nigeria's insurance industry are hard to find. Newspaper reports indicate that premiums have been growing rapidly. 49 insurance companies are permitted to operate in Nigeria, a decline from 100 in 2005. NAICOM has faced allegations of corruption and impropriety in the supervision of the recapitalisation and consolidation exercise.

The challenges of doing business in Nigeria result in few multinational groups having a presence. AIG is the only one.

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