Interview with Mohamed Abdallahi EL Hebly, Secretary General of the Professional Association of Insurers of Mauritania (APAM)

“Insurance plays a major economic role, it provides social protection and support to the economy through its investments with national financial institutions”

Mohamed Abdallahi EL Hebly, better known as Baullahi, a diplomat from the National School of Public Administration in Rabat, has worked in the insurance sector for 22 years. His unanimous election in 2018 as Secretary General of APAM is more recognition for the fight he has been leading for 20 years to enhance the image of insurance in Mauritania.

How does APAM present itself?

A restructuring of the insurance sector has always proved to be an urgent necessity in order to deal with the problems with which the insurance and reinsurance sector is confronted; which explained on our part the urgent need to prepare operators in the sector to play a decisive role within this organization by enabling them to contribute through efficient group action to the emergence of an environment favorable to investment and strengthening their competitiveness. It is in order to achieve the promotion of a true culture of insurance and the development of the sector’s brand image as a major double axis in terms of best practices of good conduct that all insurance and reinsurance companies have voluntarily agreed to come together in a legal framework capable of meeting their aspirations. APAM governed by the laws and regulations in force in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which authorize its creation and operation, had set itself the motto: solidarity – solvency – credibility. With the main objective of studying, defending, coordinating and representing the interests of insurance companies. APAM succeeded after three years in imposing a better organization of the sector as well as the establishment and preservation of a climate of trust and solidarity between all insurance companies by promoting healthy competition and fair in compliance with the regulations in force.

How do you see the future of insurance in Mauritania?

Insurance plays a major economic role, it offers social protection and support to the economy through its investments with national financial institutions. It guarantees investments, consolidates employment and preserves the economic fabric. These missions, which are of a social, economic and financial nature, are built on the basis of a legal act, the subscription of which may be compulsory or optional. Insurance is also an important financial tool in a modern economy. Since it is the only sector capable of providing all other sectors with social protection including agricultural insurance. They are the masters in all modern economies. In Mauritania, to be able to play its role, an urgent reorganization of the sector is necessary.

This goes through :

– The organization under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic of the Estates General on the Insurance Sector;

– The application in all the rigor of the law of the insurance obligations provided for by law: – Land motor vehicles. – Imported goods or faculties – Building works –

From a regulatory point of view, it is necessary to improve:

– Collaboration between all the authorities in the country through a written agreement with APAM in order to ensure strict compliance with the regulations in force.

– To reactivate the Insurance Advisory Commission provided for in the insurance code.

– To set up an “Insurance Committee” bringing together all the players in the sector.

– To initiate a morality investigation to protect the market against unscrupulous participants by submitting any new application for approval to be submitted for the opinion of the Consultative Commission.

– To revise the Insurance Code to fill the gaps and update the regulations to take into account the evolution of the sector either to define new compulsory insurance, including professional insurance, or to institute decrees or implementing orders for certain cases ;

– To revise the provisions relating to the TFM with a view to its strict application at the level of the customs cordon;

– To ensure the application of compulsory insurance;

– To ensure the strict application of the provisions relating to the domiciliation of insurance companies;

– To regulate the Fronting taking into account the evolution of the volume of investments and foreign capital introduced by multinationals;

– Promote specialized justice in insurance law.

This specialization will take two aspects:

– A first relating to the modification of certain texts;

– A second aspect relating to the training itself. Only magistrates trained for this purpose will take charge of insurance cases:

– The equivalent of article 13 of the CIMA code is to be introduced into our legislation: no premiums, no guarantee. Article 166 of the Insurance Code on unenforceability against third parties needs to be reviewed;

– Repeal of article 14 making enforceable notwithstanding opposition or appeal the decision of the court.

-Tax incentives and exemptions: – Total exemption from tax on the insurance agreements concerned (life, group insurance, health, etc.). We can draw inspiration from French, Moroccan, Tunisian, Senegalese, Ivorian texts, etc.

Customers often complain about the non-settlement of claims? How to solve this problem ?

There is this critical analysis of the sector which is explained by:
– The non-application of the compulsory insurance provided for by law in order to have the financial balance necessary to provide adequate compensation;

– Ridiculous bonuses
– the dilapidation of the park and depreciation of the parts

– Non-functional guarantee fund
-A very high loss ratio due to a number of factors including:
– A dilapidated car park.
– The condition of a number of inland roads
– No technical visit
– Conditions for issuing the permit
– Failure to respect the highway code
– Absence or insufficiency of signaling
– Lack of deterrence.

The volume of investment by oil and mining multinationals is becoming increasingly important. Do you think local insurers will be able to take advantage of this?

There is the principle of localization of insurance in accordance with the law. Article 199 of Law No. 1993-40 of July 20, 1993 on the Insurance Code is clear on this subject: “Prohibition of Direct Insurance Abroad for Risks located in Mauritania. Direct insurance abroad of risks located in Mauritania is prohibited under penalty of a fine of 50% of the insured value”. Coverage of facilities and oil exploitation is expected to generate significant premiums hitherto granted to foreign companies.

Do you think that the arrival of foreign insurers will be able to raise the level of the sector?

Personally, that’s what I think. Experience and compliance with international standards will impose a rigorous more competitive order.

You were awarded at the 46th General Assembly of FANAF in Dakar?

This is the second since I have already received the same distinction at the 44th General Assembly of FANAF (Federation of Insurance Companies under National African Law) in Tunis in 2018. It is a very important event attended each year over a thousand insurers, reinsurers, brokers, journalists and other guests from around the world. I take this opportunity to thank all my African colleagues for this honour. If I succeeded in making known the Mauritanian market as they often say, I very much regret the lack of collaboration on our part to better develop our market.

Do you have a last message, Mr. Secretary General?

Through the enormous mass of premiums they collect, Insurance and Reinsurance Companies enable the creation of capital gains unequaled in the history of finance throughout the world through placements and investments. With the development of insurance products around the world, economic operators are better equipped to deal with the losses that may be caused by natural disasters or any other accident thanks to reinsurance treaties.

Since its appearance in Mauritania as an economic product, insurance has continued to develop. The market now includes 17 companies, including a foreign company and a Mutuelle Santé. Hence the ever-increasing role played by insurance companies in the financial field, alongside banks. Role set to develop even further with the start of oil and gas exploitation in our country. Helping political stability, the construction of infrastructure, such as paved roads, drilling, building construction; is likely to contribute to the development of insurance. Among the possibilities offered by this market, we can cite:

– The coverage of installations and the exploitation of oil, a sector expected to generate significant premiums.
– Coverage in favor of companies prospecting for oil, gas and precious materials.

– The dynamism of the banking sector which has seen the birth of several national private banks as well as the installation of some foreign banks.

– Maritime insurance (vessel hull and transport of maritime faculties) in a country which is a hub between North Africa and the rest of the world, and which has some of the most fish-rich coasts in the world (nearly 800 km.)

– Automobile insurance, with a national fleet in remarkable expansion and which is only insured at around 40%.
– Health insurance. Local companies are attaching more and more importance to this type of insurance for their personnel.

– Life insurance. This extremely important branch, given the capital it allows to grow, remains to be developed.

It is very important that the authorities take important measures in close collaboration with APAM to make the most of a sector so important for the economic development of the country.

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