Atlas Magazine February 2006

The Maghreb above figures

For the sake of a more balanced attitude and to shed further light on the statistics we published in our previous issue regarding the Maghreb region, additional precisions are needed. Figures surely speak for themselves, they remain nonetheless insufficient or else how to explain that two countries with relatively equal populations such as Morocco and Algeria report performances so sharply distinct?

In 2004, Morocco reported a premium volume three times higher than that of Algeria, not long ago regarded as the most industrialized country of the Maghreb zone.

As far as Algeria is concerned, we can still invoke the negative impact of the dinar collapse against the dollar, the weakness of the motor insurance premium for a car fleet that is plainly superior to that of its neighbour. But the main reasons for the Algerian market's shrinking remain of structural nature.

Like the other sectors of activity, the Algerian insurance has not yet started its mutation. The sector remains dominated by state companies which control 70% of a market strained by bureaucracy. The opening to the private sector has not caused any drastic change to the insurance landscape, with a market that is still not very profitable and unlikely to attract private investors.

Morocco, however, is endowed with genuine industry masters and a well-organized and robust banking sector which acts as a driving force. The structural changes occurring in the recent ten years are also worth mentioning. Thanks to the tricks of mergers, acquisitions and license withdrawals, the market that has been cut off by 50% of its companies is once again attracting investors.

These are the true reasons, in our view, that account for such a divide in premiums between the two markets.

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