By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Deputy Minister of Finance2 turning the sod for the construction of the office
WAICA Reinsurance Corporation-Sierra Leone, yesterday Wednesday, March 23, turned the sod for the construction of their edifice headquarters.
According to the Architect, Mohamed A. Coomber, the five storey building would hosts 100 offices with size conference halls in each of the floors and a main conference hall with a capacity of 450.
He said the building would be first and last of its kind building in the country because it would be constructed with a big rock inside.
Speaking at the site at Hill Station, the Group Managing Director of WAICA Re Sierra Leone, Ezekiel Abiola Ekundayo, said WAICA Re is an international company which officially entered Sierra Leone in March, 2011.
He said they were happy because they were able to lay the foundation of their building in the ancient of Freetown, noting that it signifies that they have come into the country to stay and that they mean business.
He noted that they were building an institution and not just a company.
He said WAICA Re is known to be a baby of West Africa, but that was then, noting that the company has now grown beyond West Africa to become an international entity, with the headquarters in Sierra Leone and eight operating states, four subsidiaries and four regional offices in Kenya, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tunisia.
“We are one of the leading reinsurance players in Africa and beyond. We grew from a gross premium of USD35 million in 2011 to over USD 150 million in 2021. Paid up capital of USD65 million WAICA Re is rated B+ by A.M Best Agency,” he stated.
He said they also operate in Africa, Middle East and part of Asia and that they write all classes of insurance including General, Life, Special Risks, and Engineering risks and provide training and technical support for their partners.
WAICA Re Group Chairman, Kofi Duffuor, said Article two (2) of the headquarters agreement that WAICA Re signed with the Government and people of Sierra Leone, states that the Government of Sierra Leone would within five years of the establishment of WAICA Re, provides a parcel of land for the construction of WAICA Re headquarters, noting that the Sierra Leone Government fulfilled its part by offering land.
“Today, WAICA Re is also beginning the process of fulfilling its part of the bargain as captured in Article 2 of the aforesaid agreement. We should have constructed the office two years ago but the scourge of the COVID 19 pandemic prevented us from doing so,” he said.
He said the event confirms the continued commitment of both the government and the people of Sierra Leone on one hand and WAICA Re on the other hand.
Commissioner of Insurance in Sierra Leone, Arthur Yaskey said the turning of the sod is the largest single project to be undertaken by a member of the insurance industry in the country and it was also a fresh example of the productive partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone and WAICA, of which Sierra Leone was a founding member.
He said WAICA Reinsurance Corporation started operating in the country eleven years ago with the objective of reducing the outflow of insurance premiums from the sub-region; help in improving the balance of payments position of the member countries and thus increase the retention capacity.
He said the state-of-the-art building will definitely add to the infrastructural beauty of the Freetown skyline.
He said some of the benefits to the nation emanating from WAICA Reinsurance Corporation since its establishment a few years ago, included offering gainful employment to a number of Sierra Leoneans, strengthening the job capacities of a number of Sierra Leoneans who are in the insurance industry, providing a number of scholarships to Sierra Leoneans to pursue the one-year diploma course in insurance at the West African Insurance Institute in Banjul, and providing a training center.
The branch offices established by WAICA Re in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Harare, Zimbabwe, and others to be established will all be administered from this office.
Deputy Minister of Finance 2, said Sierra Leone has been home to the corporation since its incorporation on 7th March 2011 and that the Government of Sierra Leone has provided the economic and political ambience for WAICA Re to flourish as an entity given diplomatic status.
He said the corporation has contributed to the employment, economy and production capacity of the Republic of Sierra Leone and it is indeed a fruitful and symbiotic relationship.
He said at the formation of the corporation, the Government of Sierra Leone promised that it would allocate a piece of land to WAICA Reinsurance Corporation to construct its headquarters building, a commitment that was fully honored in 2016 when the Government legally handed over to the organization the piece of land.
He said as the only reinsurance company in Sierra Leone, the largest insurance entity in the country, and the 6th largest reinsurance company by revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, Sierra Leone feels proud to be seen as the country hosting such a high profile and fast-growing company.