The Zambian president, His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has this morning officially opened the ZEP-RE business park in Lusaka and pledged his continuing support for the insurance sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the business park, located at Plot 20845, Alick Nkhata Road, Mass Media, Lusaka, the president said “Zambia as a founder signatory state to the agreement establishing ZEP-RE; and a host country to the company is proud to be associated with this achievement.”
President Lungu stressed the importance of insurance in sustaining a healthy and growing economy and commended the company for making its largest investment in Zambia.
“ZEP-RE has actively participated in mitigating losses suffered in the market as part of its business operations. The company has invested more than US$ 50 million in government bonds in the last ten years. As we all aware, such investments are critical to a country’s economic development and I thank ZEP-RE for its demonstrated commitment to our country.” President Lungu added.
He further recognised the company for undertaking market development initiatives to grow financial inclusion through the development of Zambia’s agriculture sector, a key component of the economy by supporting the country’s farmers input support programme, designed to address food security and risks faced by small scale farmers.
President Lungu welcomed the news that ZEP-RE is enabling the development of micro-insurance solutions targeted at low-income earners and small and medium-sized enterprises. He added that he was pleased to learn that the company has developed technical and professional skills for practitioners within the insurance industry and is supporting policy and regulatory reforms with the objectives of growing insurance penetration, enhancing the capacity of local insurance companies and increasing the contribution of insurance to the country’s GDP and as such was fulfilling the mandate for which it was created.
The president made clear “For as long as countries can actively address the risks commonly faced by the ordinary population and enable their integration into the financial system, then we have fulfilled our obligations as leaders of our people.”
He further stated that in view of ZEP-RE’s achievements, it also provides the perfect across-the-border investment opportunity for governments and entities within the region and he encouraged non–member countries to join its membership and pledged the support of COMESA member states to help the company achieve the objectives for which it was established.
“In addition, bearing in mind its footprint across Africa, it is the kind of institution that will bring the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade area to fruition, as its in position to support trade facilitation among member states through provision of the required risk mitigation services. In the same spirit and with what we are seeing today, it has demonstrated its capacity to enable retention of premiums within our continent prior to foreign placement,” he said.
“We are all aware that insurance funds constitute a major contributor to economic development, particularly within developed economies. It is therefore critical that we work towards stemming the flight of such funds and use these for developing our own markets.”
The president concluded “On my own behalf and of my country, we pledge to support ZEP-RE and provide all the necessary frameworks required for it to efficiently execute its mandate.”
The occasion was also graced by several dignitaries including the Secretary General of COMESA, Her excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe and members of the Zambian cabinet, officials of the Zambian government, insurance industry captains and the board and management of ZEP-RE.