Daily Archives: January 8, 2018

Insurers Leverage New Technologies and Reinvent Business Models to Reach Underserved Consumers, Report Finds

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) and the Institute of International Finance (IIF), with the support of MetLife Foundation, today released a new report detailing the factors spurring inclusive insurance around the world. It reveals how both traditional and new insurers are breaking open new markets and reaching underserved customers through the use of innovative technologies, business models, product design, and partnerships, enabled by effective regulatory environments.

The report, “Inclusive Insurance: Closing the Protection Gap for Emerging Customers” is based on extensive interviews with commercial insurers and insurance experts who are making inclusive insurance work as a successful business model. With insights from players at the frontlines, the report identifies the main challenges of providing insurance to lower income populations, as well as the solutions companies are using to overcome them. For example, companies are:

  • Using new distribution channels and aggregators – from telcos to farmer cooperatives – to identify and connect with low-income customers
  • Implementing new business models and products to provide and administer the risk mitigation solutions that low-income customers need
  • Deploying “insurtech” innovations and digital channels to connect with, and service, low-income customers

The market for inclusive insurance is vast, largely untapped, and potentially profitable. The confluence of rising incomes in emerging markets, and new technologies that reduce risk assessment and distribution costs, offer an opportunity for more insurers to meet the needs of the estimated 3.8 billion people who remain underserved or unserved.

“Even among people with very little disposable income, insurance can be a vital tool to manage financial risks and mitigate the effects of shocks,” said Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. “Rising incomes around the world create new market opportunities, making long-term investment in inclusive insurance both profitable for insurers and meaningful in terms of social benefits.”

The inclusive insurance strategies highlighted in the report include eliminating costly verification screenings to identify “exclusions,” offering insurance policies without any fine print, triggering payouts based on verifiable events or data instead of claim submissions, and engineering more frequent payouts to consumers. The report also features examples of protective life and health insurance products designed to serve low-income customers, as well as newer products related to climate change, natural disasters, and food security.

“This report invites us to re-think the concept of insurance and its fundamental role in society. It is our hope that this report enables our diverse membership—particularly those financial institutions not yet active in insurance—to leverage their expanding work with underserved customers to help close the insurance gap,” said Conan French, Senior Advisor for Innovation and Fintech at the Institute of International Finance.

The new report is part of a two-year initiative from CFI and the IIF, with support from MetLife Foundation, to help advance the financial services industry’s ability to reach unserved and underserved populations. The project, titled “Mainstreaming Financial Inclusion: Best Practices,” facilitates learning and action on how financial institutions can respond to the specific challenges of reaching lower income market segments.

About the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) is an action-oriented think tank that engages and challenges the industry to better serve, protect and empower clients. We develop insights, advocate on behalf of clients and collaborate with stakeholders to achieve a comprehensive vision for financial inclusion. We are dedicated to enabling 3 billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector to improve their lives.




About the Institute of International Finance

The Institute of International Finance is the global association of the financial industry, with close to 500 members from 70 countries. Its mission is to support the financial industry in the prudent management of risks; to develop sound industry practices; and to advocate for regulatory, financial and economic policies that are in the broad interests of its members and foster global financial stability and sustainable economic growth. IIF members include commercial and investment banks, asset managers, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, central banks and development banks. For more information visit www.iif.com.



WHO: Mystery Outbreak in South Sudan Kills Three

GENEVA �Three people in South Sudan have died of a suspected viral hemorrhagic fever and 60 of their contacts are being monitored for any infection, the World Health Organization said Monday.

Ebola, Marburg and yellow fever are among viral hemorrhagic fevers that have caused deadly outbreaks in Africa. More than 11,300 people died during the worst outbreak of Ebola, a highly contagious disease, which mainly affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2013 to 2016.

The three people in South Sudan � a pregnant woman, a teenage girl and a boy � all died in December and were from the same village in Yirol East county in the eastern Lakes State. But there had been no known contact among them.

No tissue or blood samples were collected from their bodies for analysis, and South Sudan health authorities reported the cases on Dec. 28, the WHO said in a statement.

“The outbreak of suspected viral hemorrhagic fever in South Sudan could rapidly evolve, and critical information including laboratory confirmation of the etiology of disease is needed to direct response efforts,” it said.

National health authorities and WHO are investigating and have found evidence of zoonotic hemorrhagic illness in goats and sheep in the area, including some deaths, as well as deaths among wild birds at the time, it added.

Source: Voice of America


French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday launched a state visit to China in Xian — the starting point of the ancient Silk Road — in a nod to his counterpart’s scheme to revive the famous trading route.

Macron will visit the northern city’s famous terracotta warriors along with his wife Brigitte before delivering a keynote speech on the future of Franco-Chinese relations.

The 8,000-man clay army, crafted around 250 BC for the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang, is a symbol of ancient Chinese artistic and military sophistication in a country that proclaims itself a 5,000-year-old civilisation.

Macron is beginning the three-day visit in Xian as a gesture to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s colossal New Silk Road project, an ambitious initiative to connect Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea.

The $1 trillion infrastructure programme is billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabric, spices, and a wealth of other goods in both directions.

Known in China as “One Belt One Road”, the plan is to see gleaming new road and rail networks built through Central Asia and beyond, and new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

The project has elicited both interest and anxiety and France has so far been cautious on it. Observers say China is waiting for Macron to outline his views on the scheme, in his emerging role as a European leadership voice.

Macron’s first official visit to Asia marks a new stage for his diplomacy, which has so far been concentrated on Europe and Africa.

He plans to seek a “strategic partnership” with Beijing on issues including terrorism and climate change, and make Xi an ally in implementing the Paris accord to fight climate change after the US pulled out of the deal.

After Xian, Macron will travel on to Beijing along with his delegation which takes in some 60 business executives and institutions.

Source: National News Agency

Sovereign Foods decision to protect public health, says Minister

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says while it cannot be concluded that Sovereign Foods abattoir is the source of the Listeriosis outbreak, stopping the facility from food preparation was in the best interest of public health.

At this juncture, we cannot conclude that the abattoir called Sovereign Foods is the source of the present outbreak. [However] we can conclude that it has Listeria, which can cause illness and hence it was in the best interest of public health that the abattoir was prohibited from further preparing food, pending the cleaning of the environment and meeting certain conditions given to them.

What concerns us more at this moment is that this particular abattoir was closed two months ago by DAFF [Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] following the discovery of unhygienic conditions and practices, which of course were not necessarily related to Listeria, said the Minister on Monday at a briefing in Tshwane.

The Department of Health has put the Listeriosis outbreak on high surveillance as 119 new cases have occurred since 5 December 2017 and 61 patients have passed on.

Sovereign Foods abattoir, which lab tests found to contain traces of Listeria, did not test positive for ST6, which is the strain suspected to be the cause of the present outbreak.

Minister Motsoaledi said environmental health investigations had been conducted in July 2017 by Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality at the abattoir, the findings of which were existence of conditions that constitute a nuisance in the facility.

These led to delayed issuance of a Certificate of Acceptability at the time until such time that the corrective measures were implemented, said the Minister.

Sovereign Foods

Sovereign Foods was served with a prohibition notice after a chicken sample that was traced to its abattoir from a Listeriosis patient’s home tested positive for listeria.

According to the Department of Health, the chicken sample from the fridge at the patient’s home tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

This chicken was traced back to the store, and from there traced back to the abattoir it was sourced from, Sovereign Foods.

Environmental health practitioners visited the abattoir and collected food and environmental samples, several of which tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. As a precaution, the abattoir was served with a prohibition notice pending further investigations, Minister Motsoaledi said.

In an effort to scientifically trace the origins of the outbreak, a whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis was done.

WGS is a DNA-fingerprinting analysis which aims to determine whether particular organisms are related and are of the same sequence type.

To do this, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) used what it calls isolates from three different sources. These sources are:

Clinical isolates: obtained from the blood of a sick patient.

Food isolates: obtained from the food that is found in the patient’s home or any other locality like food production sites;

Environmental isolates: obtained from the environment where food is produced.

The clinical isolates are represented by nine sequence types which are ST1, ST101, ST2, ST219, ST5, ST54, ST6, ST8 and ST876. However, 91% of these clinical isolates are sequence type 6 (ST6), which are closely related and represent a single strain of Listeria monocytogenes.

It can then be said that the strain for this present outbreak we are experiencing is ST6 or strain 6. It has been identified in isolates from all nine provinces. This supports the current working hypothesis that a single widely consumed food product or multiple food products produced at a single facility is causing the outbreak, said Minister Motsoaledi.

He said although inroads have been made, they cannot yet link the clinical isolates obtained from patients to a particular food stuff or a particular food production site environment.

Sovereign Foods abattoir, which contained traces of Listeria, did not test positive for the ST6, which is the strain suspected to be the cause of the present outbreak.

All the samples collected from the food and environment at the abattoir have up to so far failed to pick up the outbreak strain ST6, Minister Motsoaledi said.

The abattoir was nonetheless slapped with a prohibition notice for public health safety because other strains with the potential to cause disease were identified.

Health calls for clean-up of food industry

In an effort to curb the outbreak, a special meeting was held with all senior managers in Gauteng on 15 December 2017 to inspect all food premises within the province, targeting food processing areas and retail foods.

The Director General of the National Department of Health has formally requested food industry stakeholders to submit details of Listeria-positive food items, environmental swabs and Listeria isolates to the NICD, said the department.

Despite several stakeholders coming forward, the ministry said not all stakeholders have responded as yet.

Clinical Listeriosis management guidelines are available on the website and the NICD continues to operate its 24-hour hotline to support healthcare workers, said Minister Motsoaledi.

Source: South African Government News Agency


The President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, will deliver the State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, 8 February 2018 at 7pm.

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) sets out government’s key policy objectives and deliverables for the year ahead, highlights achievements, flags challenges and outlined interventions to unlock development interventions for the coming financial year. The SONA marks the official start of the Parliamentary programme.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa