#Article (Archive)

Gamstar On Strategic Alliance

Aug 19, 2008, 8:48 AM

Gamstar, one of the leading Insurance Companies in The Gambia has gone on strategic alliance with Industrial General Insurance Inc. (ICI) in Nigerian buying 60%. ICI Inc. is based in Nigeria with several branches in other African countries. They have a fair knowledge in insurance issues making them one of the leading insurance companies of Nigeria and in those countries where their presence is felt. With the 60% bought from Gamstar, they have plans of improving on insurance in the country and improve on human resources in their offices and to expand in several areas in the country.The new MD, Abiodun Alao speaks to Augustine Kanjia and points out their reason, plans and areas government should step in to make the industry more vibrant with many people including government coming to insure their properties to let them and others go to bed at ease. Read on and make the difference.

S&D: Who are you sir?

Abiodun Alao: My name is Abiodun Alao, I am a Nigerian and I am the new Managing Director of Gamstar Insurance Company Limited.

S&D: Why did Industrial General Insurance Inc. go into strategic alliance with Gamstar Insurance Company?

Abiodun Alao: The strategic alliance between
ICI and Gamstar is to make our ideas felt. We have it in Uganda, Ghana and we are going to Sierra Leone. The idea is to contribute our own quota to insurance in The Gambia. There is no doubt about Gamstar being the foremost in the country but we need to make it greater and render more prompt services. 60% was bought from Gamstar by ICI Inc Nigeria. We would want to commend Bai Faal because some companies die in the process. It is a wise decision to say take 60% and let the company survive. Having 100% of nothing is worse than having 40% of something.

S&D: Who is who in the company?

Abiodun Alao: Well, Bai Ndongo Faal is the founder and owner of Gamstar established in 19991. Presently he is the vice chairman of the company. Oluteni Oluwude (OON), Chairman/Executive vice chairman of
ICI Nigeria, Rotomi Fashola, Director, Abiodun Alao, Managing Director, Sulayman Cham, Company Secretary.

S&D: Are there any new developments?

Abiodun Alao: Gamstar is a household name in the
Gambia. We have started giving it a face lift. We are expanding to Farafenni, Bansang and Basse and we are also looking at Kanilai, by way of expansion but you have to look at population. ICI Nigeria Inc. has 40 branches we are trying to ensure that we expand and create employment opportunity in The Gambia and employ more Gambians.

S&D: What is big to share about Gamstar?

Abiodun Alao: Apart from Gamstar being the first, it is one that can be proud of its own property. How many insurance companies have their own assets? That is why we came in to continue from that point as part of our commitment.

S&D: What would you offer to your customers?

Abiodun Alao: Personalized service! That is what we are ready to offer. Coming to realize the importance of the brokers, not withstanding at the end of the day they will know the company that they are patronizing, that is one of our service edges.We go there we have a chat with them, we tell the customers that they can come down here to have a discussion or they can phone us. As an MD I don't sit to expect miracles to happen I go there in my own little time. We have routine calls, courtesy calls and we ask them to evaluate what we offer.

S&D: Do you need to improve on anything for your staff?

Abiodun Alao: We'll improve on our Information Technology so that we train our staff as we've started getting some of our staff to train at WAII and even outside
Gambia and we would continue to do it. We believe in the welfare of our staff and that's what we are known for.

S&D: What do you think about the Insurance Industry in The

Abiodun Alao: As regards the Insurance Industry here, I think we need to do more our insurance association needs to be more peaceable. There are issues we need to take up with the government. During my visit as the guest speaker at a Business Forum we discussed that the country was loosing a lot from the marine business by way of income, irrespective of whether any agreement was signed or the type of agreement signed. It is not only
Gambia to sign the agreement. Any way, we need to look at it because you cannot bring in any goods here without insuring it here. What happens if there is a plague? Pay the premium to the insurance company, let us take over the responsibility and the country too has been loosing by way of sales tax, they should have raised money from it to develop the country. The aspect of co-insurance is also there.

S&D: What are you talking about when you say co-insurance?

Abiodun Alao: What are we talking about here? On co-insurance, if there is a risk that over and above what insurance can retain all we need to do is to bring for or five insurance companies together and let them share business among themselves and ensure that they grow this market. The market is not growing but I foresee the future of insurance here in The Gambia is rife but we need to do more. Where there is no real insurance there is this issue of calling all the insurance companies and giving to the lowest bidder. It is not always ideal, the lowest bidder will take his own proportion send the remaining to the rich, and we would just be working for the rich. Why can't we sit down and say, you take 10%, you take 20%, you take 40% and we would retain the business internally. And don't forget there is no insurance company without a re-insurance treaty, we have re-insurance backing, and then why can't we now say you take this take that and the market can be widened?

S&D: Sir, do you think the National Assembly has a part to play in this aspect?

Abiodun Alao: These are some of the areas our National Assembly have to do something, they have to promote us they have to make sure this industry is not dead because if there is no law to say that before you take something out you must have exhausted all the local something that you have. These are some of the things that are affecting the insurance here.

S&D: Do you have any concrete example to exemplify what is just said above?

Abiodun Alao: Go to Nigeria, Sierra Leone, go to anywhere; before bringing anything, you have to insure it, you have to patronize the local insurance but something like that is not here.

You can't do that here because you don't want to compel any businessman; you want to make the environment very conducive, no you are not improving anything! We are loosing a lot of money, a lot is going out.

S&D: What do you think about government's assets since they are at the helm of everything?

Abiodun Alao: Some of the government assets need to be insured giving the fact that government has money we can play around, we can do this but if that does not happen you can transfer it, transfer the risk to the professionals then you can go to bed. The money can be used and practicalised. If government vehicle is involved in an accident, and you know the worth of the vehicle if you transfer it to the Insurance Company who is a professional they will do the repairs if not you have to buy another one, why not use that money for something else? Why not use it for development purposes? So in
Nigeria and any other advanced country you have to insure your property.