Enterprise Life Assurance Company (ELAC) of Ghana, Thursday officially launched (ELAC) Gambia operations Limited at a ceremony held at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa at Bijilo.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, George Otto, board chairman ELAC Gambia, said the enterprise life assurance company of Ghana has come a long way since its modest beginning in 2001 when they had a file size of just 2,500 insured lives. "Our active file size is over 800,000 lives as at June and will hit the million mark by year's end," he assured.
According to him, over the years, the board and management of ELAC recognized clients' need for broader financial services inline with the institutional mission of assurance delivery with a heart. "Our success is founded on a great team of highly motivated staff and our efforts had led us in to recognize as the best financial services company and also the best life assurance company in Ghana in 2010 and in 2011 rankings of top 100 businesses in Ghana known as club 100 branches out of Ghana," he stated.
Otto noted that the decision to branch out of Ghana started two years ago and the Gambia was chosen as their first port of call due to its long history of political stability and consistent economic growth. He said: "We are initially introducing two products on to the Gambian market, life time needs a plan designed to address the double hazard of either living too long or dying too early and education plan to support parents with changing and growing cost of good quality education".
Amadou Colley, Governor of Central Bank of the Gambia, said ELAC Gambia is a subsidiary of ELAC Ghana, the second largest life insurance companyin Ghana with impressive growth record. "The audited accounts of ELAC Ghana, assets totaled US$4.8 Million in 2010,of which liquid assets amounted to US$7.7Million. Premium income rose to $26 Million in 2010,or 75% from 2009 and that it is our ardent hope that the excellencent performance would be replicated in The Gambia in not the too distant future," he remarked.
Governor Colley said the assets of the industry accounts for less 0.8 percent of the total financial sector assets. He said: "The contribution of life insurance to the assets and premium of the industry is meager at the end of December 2011,the life asssurance market recorded total assets and premium of D15.9 million and D4.8 million or 3 percent and 3 percent of the total industry assets and premium.
His words: "The entry of ELAC Gambia in to the market, we believe would contribute to the deepening of the insurance industry in general and life assurance particularly but only if the right products are offered to the right segments of the population and bearing in mind assurance is all about trust."
According to the Central Bank governor, buyers of the assurance policies also need the reassurance that their interest are safeguarded at inceptions well as during the lifetime of the policy and that they would be treated fairly and their benefits and claims paid promptly. As the regulator authority ,the central Bank of The Gambia remains committed to ensuring that the assurance industry operates optimally and to its full potentials under the framework of the Insurance Act 2003 and the Insurance Regulation 2005.
Abdou Kolley, minister of Finance and Economic Affair, said: "As a nation we appreciate and welcome such investments, especially life assurance investment due to its long term related benefits, and the creation of long term funds of investment into The Gambia economy. The Government will continue to create a sound and enabling environment for such investments and businesses and entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities that such an environment generates and invest in new and innovative products and services for the benefit of populace."
Minister Kolley noted that life assurance though a new concept and not very well known too many adding that African countries, including the Gambia is perceived as an engine for growth and development in many developed countries. "We in The Gambia are proud and privileged to being to see the likes of such investment and risk management oriented companies ELAC entering to our markets".
His words: "We also hope that the Gambian people will learn to appreciate the virtues of life assurance and being to seriously invest and plan for the inevitable and there by contribute to minimizing grief and hardship for family and lived ones when the time arrives." He assured the management of ELAC of government's support to make their investment worthwhile in The Gambia.
Bai Matarr Drammeh, chairman of ELAC Gambia, said that the enterprise is one of the oldest private insurance companies in Ghana with a very strong reserve and asset base. More importantly, he added, it is an opportunity to employ Gambians and it also has the potential to contribute to the economic growth of the country.
"ELAC is vehicle for integration and cooperation within the prescription of ECOWAS protocols in terms of free movement of people goods, capital and intellectual asset. The African GDP growth rate is among the highest in the world, while GDP growth rate is among the lowest, and equally low is insurance penetration and destiny," he concluded.