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Kenyan tops insurance journalism awards for Africa

Dominic Omondi, of The Standard Group in Kenya, has been named as the Future Talent Award winner at the fifth Continental Reinsurance Pan-African Re/Insurance Journalism Awards, which were handed out at a virtual awards ceremony due to travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Five winners were picked from 77 entries, which were submitted by business reporters from 15 French- and English-speaking countries under four categories: Best Re/insurance Print Article, Best Re/insurance Online Article, Best Re/insurance Broadcast Article and Best Re/insurance French Article – print/online/broadcast.

Isaac Khisa (The Independent, Uganda), emerged as the winner for Best Re/insurance Print Article (English category). His story, titled “Across sub-Saharan Africa, tech-enabled micro-insurance is the next big thing”, describes how insurance firms can leverage growing mobile-phone subscriptions to extend insurance services to low-income earners who are, in most cases, not catered for by conventional insurance services.

David Njagi, a freelance journalist from Kenya, bagged the award for Best Re/insurance Online Article (English category) for his feature, “Voice of resilience: Kenyan radio builds herders’ trust in drought insurance”, which was published by Thomson Reuters. The story focuses on how a community-based radio is helping northern Kenya understand and learn how to benefit from Islamic weather insurance (Takaful).

The award for Best Re/insurance Broadcast Article (English category) went to Destiny Onyemihia (Voice of Nigeria) for his story, “Sustaining businesses through cyber insurance”, which explores how businesses can sustain their operations in the midst of rising cyber threats and attacks in the country.

Joel Assoko (Jeune Afrique Media Group, France) emerged as the winner for Best Re/insurance French Article – print/online/broadcast. In his story, “La guerre des assureurs aura bien lieu”, Mr Assoko describes a profession that is not well known or understood in Africa, and is usually mentioned only in critical and negative situations. Yet, it is still a vital pillar for African economies, one that can promote balanced growth and ensure a better future. The aim was to allow the general public to become more familiar with the crucial changes occurring within the industry.

The Future Talent Award was won by Standard Group’s Mr Omondi for his inspiring article, “How doctors are dragging medical insurers to early grave”, which addresses the issue of perverse incentives and how insurance companies in Kenya have sunk into losses as healthcare providers inflate their charges. This award was recommended by the judges to recognise the outstanding entry among the four categories. It replaces the previous Pan-African Re/insurance Journalist of the Year Award.

Dr Femi Oyetunji, group CEO of Continental Reinsurance, said: “We will continue to support and build capacity for journalists so they can contribute to the development of the re/insurance industry in Africa.”

The 15 countries with journalists participating in the awards were: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Namibia (Anglophone); and Morocco, Cameroon and Benin (Francophone). “Even though we’ve seen the number of entries double through the years, we wish to encourage more female participants to enter for future awards,” added Dr Oyetunji.

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