Interview with AM Best TV - Market Fragmentation Challenges for African Insurers

Our Group Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer had an interview with Yvette Essen of AM Best TV on the Market Fragmentation Challenges of African Insurers.

Interviewer (Yvette Essen): Let’s talk about the fact that you have been featured once again in AM Best Global 50 ranking of the biggest reinsurers, but you slipped down some-what on the tables, why is that?

GMD/CEO (Corneille Karekezi): Yeah, thank you. True that our performance in terms of your ranking has been a bit not quite good as in the past. The reason is simple, our top line has declined due to the underlying premium income which is in other currencies other than US dollars our presentation currency. So our underlying currencies are African countries and all of them almost, over the last four (4) years have been depreciating against the US dollars. That’s the simple reason, otherwise our income is still growing in local currencies.

Interviewer (Yvette Essen): This is a real issue for companies operating in Africa that the exchange rate means that they look like they are not growing on the top line. What can countries in Africa do to combat this?

GMD/CEO (Corneille Karekezi): One is diversification. Accessing the other markets, which have a premium income denominated in your own presentation currency, so that you can have a kind of stability in your portfolio. But it’s really difficult at the moment for an African company who has made the entirety of its premium income coming form that continent and that continent has been less resilient to external shocks. That’s why for the moment, it will be a bit difficult. But there are good news, there are good news that today all the currencies, if you take the Naira, the Rand, the Egyptian Pounds, Sudanese Dinar, they have reached really the bottom and now we are seeing again a growth coming back and we think that Africa Re would gain its ranking soon.

Interviewer (Yvette Essen): Great. Let’s talk about in some detail, the other challenges facing the market in Africa. So currency is certainly one of them. How would you describe the regulatory environment within the African region?

GMD/CEO (Corneille Karekezi): Regulatory environment is evolving, one of them is defragmentation. So it’s not a unified regulatory environment, so you have 53 countries with different regulations. So it’s very challenging for a reinsurance company who must work with all those countries, to navigate, to adapt to every and each regulatory environment. Secondly they are not at the same level of development and sophistication. So our plea is that there could be some kind of harmonization, standardization of the regulatory environment, so that reinsurers can play their full role with success.

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