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Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission: Jamaica-Day 3

It’s Day 3 and the pace of the Africa meet the Caribbean trade mission continues. The first meeting of the day was with the Insurance Association of Jamaica headed by Mr Orville Johnson, Executive Director. Orville and his team which comprised Mrs Alicia Browne, Assistant General Manager, JN General Insurance Company Ltd., Mrs Joan Kenyon, Manager, Retail Risk Department, BCIC and Mr Michael Lewis, Vice President, IT and Special Projects, Advantage General Insurance Company.

Mr Denis St Bernard introduces Mr Orville Johnson

Mr Denis St Bernard introduces Mr Orville Johnson

The insurance professionals met with the following members of trade delegation, Mr Denis St Bernard of Priority First UK, a subsidiary of Priority Group International; and Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK), Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC,  Mr Wale Sonaike,Deputy Managing Director ( AutoReg Franchise ), Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville’s Communications consultant, and the CaribDirect.com team.

Mrs Joan Kenyon and Mrs Alicia Browne

Mrs Joan Kenyon and Mrs Alicia Browne

The usual introductions were done lead by Denis St Bernard who explained the background to the trade mission by enlightening the gathering on Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK’s) remit to provide specialist business support to Caribbean businesses, enabling the to access global markets. He stressed how CENUK’s role in the Diaspora made this trade mission possible as CENUK in association with its strategic partner, Priority First UK work to provide Caribbean SMEs with opportunities otherwise unavailable.

Mr Bola Akindele and Mr Femi Niyi

Mr Bola Akindele and Mr Femi Niyi

Denis assured the gathering that his relationship with the Insurance Association of Jamaica and Mr Orville Johnson go way back and that Orville is a significant pillar in the Jamaica insurance industry and an invaluable resource to have at the meeting. He emphasised the relevance of the Courteville mission to the Caribbean as critical particularly from the point of view of the company’s AutoReg programme that is making waves in Nigeria and can be a critical asset to Jamaica’s insurance industry.

Femi Niyi delivering his presentation to insurance professionals

Femi Niyi delivering his presentation to insurance professionals

Without delay Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC took the podium and introduced Courteville Business Solutions PLC as the leader in its field of IT business solutions in Nigeria. He informed the insurance practitioners that this distinction must be taken into context by outlining Nigeria’s population of 162 million people with more than 20 million living in Lagos, a state just about the size of Jamaica.

Femi captures the attention of an attentive audience

Femi captures the attention of an attentive audience

Femi made it clear that the general challenges of Jamaica, learnt over the past few days, are very similar to those of Nigeria and that the challenges peculiar to the Jamaica insurance industry (compliance, lack of transparency, unlicensed and uninsured drivers and so on) are almost on all fours with those Nigeria experienced some seven years ago.

Michael Lewis and Denis St Bernard

Michael Lewis and Denis St Bernard

He said, ‘ Courteville are professional data managers with the largest data capture service in sub-Saharan Africa with 4500 data capture operatives across Nigeria and Sierra Leone. We employ over 100 people and indirectly employ over 10,000 people all over Nigeria. We have offices in Ghana and are moving to open branches in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania in the next 12 months.’

Executive Director Orville Johnson listens attentively

Executive Director Orville Johnson listens attentively

Femi mentioned Tax Administration Consultancy, bespoke software design and development and the famed AutoReg vehicle license system, the automated vehicle license registration and renewal system, which is designed for all vehicle owners within a state to register or renew their vehicle license hassle free and within record time.

Mrs Alicia Browne

Mrs Alicia Browne

The point was made that Courteville manages a database of 45 million records of which 15 million are registered vehicles on the road. Femi proceeded to implore the insurance industry experts present of the need to consider the verifiable successes Courteville has made over the years for implementation in the Jamaica insurance industry. He attempted to allay their anxiety by promising to undertake the assignment without any upfront payment but allow Courteville to do what they do best to demonstrate the effectiveness and reliability of the system.

Mrs Joan Kenyon

Mrs Joan Kenyon

In response, insurance guru Orville Johnson commended the Courteville team on the successes achieved with the AutoReg system. He however indicated the Insurance Association of Jamaica are in fact in the process of developing a similar system but with several non-technical challenges. Michael Lewis, IT professional and representative of Jamaica’s largest insurance company said, ‘We are developing a similar system as we have recognised the challenges but our principal concern is convincing insurance companies and brokers signing up to the system especially as there are existing systems in use that are under subscribed to.’

Denis St Bernard makes a valid point about political will to change the way the insurance industry manages data

Denis St Bernard makes a valid point about political will to change the way the insurance industry manages data

To this Managing Director Bola swiftly responded by saying that it is in the interest of all parties; the police, insurance companies, brokers and customers to support a system that brings order to a process that protects road users. He said if it is made into law they will have to comply.

Femi then cited the case of Nigeria where the head of the insurance association placed his career on the line to effect this much needed change and watched the change happen over time in spite of continuing resistance. Denis St Bernard interjected to point out that for this to be undertaken seriously ‘political will’ is required where politicians will see the value of this measure and overtly support it.

Bola Akindele pleased with proceedings

Bola Akindele pleased with proceedings

Mrs Alicia Browne asked how long would the system take to be implemented to which Femi replied, ‘eight weeks.’ It was therefore agreed that the Insurance Association of Jamaica would examine the Courteville AutoReg platform more closely with a view to ascertaining whether it’s more cost effective and timely.

Official Group Photograph

Official Group Photograph

The final meeting of the day was led by Denis St Bernard of Priority Group International, purveyors of various insurance services on the island, the meeting was begun without delay.with the Taxi Drivers Association headed up by Mr Hurshel Cyrus, director Alyjaz Business Solutions at the Four Seasons Hotel, Kingston.

Denis St Bernard outlining Priority Group International's role with the trade mission. Priority staff in background

Denis St Bernard outlining Priority Group International’s role with the trade mission. Priority staff in background

Hurshel’s assistant Ms Shelly-Ann Thorne accompanied him. Hurshel went on to describe the association as having over 30,000 owner members who apply through the association to the Transport Authority for their Public Passenger Vehicle License (PPV) which allows the association to earn an income.

The challenge for the association is that the Transport Authority does not regulate the behaviour of drivers nor do they require drivers to be members of the association. This situation finds many drivers who are ex convicts, rapists, and so on being members of the association. We’d like to implement a system that will essentially grade drivers according to background and other factors.

Managing Director Bola Akindele and Deputy Managing Wale Sonaike

Managing Director Bola Akindele and Deputy Managing Wale Sonaike

In response, Bola Akindele, managing director of Courteville assured Hurshel that they can provide a bespoke program that will address this problem under a special arrangement that does not require payment upfront. An agreement in principal has been reached and both parties will continue the collaboration and negotiation through Denis St Bernard of Priority Group International.

Accommodation for CaribDirect executives sponsored by:

Jamaica Pegasus CaribDirect

Air travel for CaribDirect executives sponsored by:

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