Atlas Magazine November 2003

The Insurance Business in Africa: Reasons for Hope

African countries progress at their own pace: They organize, restructure insurance networks and revise legislation. Be they governments, insurers, reinsurers, OAA, CIMA, or FANAF, all the actors involved in the insurance business are embarked on this great adventure.

Even though for some countries the progress is slow, it remains nonetheless real.

Public and private stockholders are increasingly aware of the necessity to change and to modernize structures. They are looking for sound and viable organizations capable to add value and generate profits.

The signs of change are already visible:

  • from Morocco: Elaboration of a new insurance code. Announcement of a mega-merger, RMA-Wataniya, the first Maghrebian insurance group,
  • from Libya: possible opening of the insurance market to private investors,
  • from Tunisia: Projects of revision of the legislation,
  • from Egypt: Creation of new insurance companies,
  • from Mauritius: Stabilization of the market by the Financial Services Company placing under supervision a few insurance companies,
  • from South Africa: Expansion of the South African giant broker Alexander Forbes in East Africa. Acquisition of foreign companies by Old Mutual, Capital Alliance and Santam,
  • from Kenya: Pan Africa Insurance merges with Apollo Insurance.

Far from being outdone, African reinsurance increases its territory year after year. It is growing slowly, but surely. African professional events are increasing; for example the conferences held in Libreville (Gabon) October 5-7, 2003 and in Tunis on October 19, 20 and 21 2003. Even the rating agency, AM Best, brings a note of hope by confirming the rating of two major leaders of the African reinsurance, namely, Africa Re and Best Re.

This resolutely optimistic report should not make us ignore the difficulties of a few markets such as Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, that were once considered the pacemakers on the continent, and that now are looking for a second life to catch up with the leaders.

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