Can you introduce Continental Reinsurance to our readers? Please talk about your revenues for the last fiscal year and your market shares in Africa in both life and non life insurance?
Continental Re is the largest privately owned African reinsurance company. We started business in Nigeria over twenty five years ago. At that time it was purely a Nigerian reinsurance company but we’ve since grown into a pan African company with offices in Nairobi,Douala,Abidjan and with two other offices to follow this year I hope. We have capitalized our Nairobi office into a full fledge subsidiary. Our shareholders are mainly international institutional investors, some insurance companies across Africa and some insurance companies from different parts of Africa. We are a truly a pan African company and our vision is to be the premiere pan African reinsurance company.
Overall we met our profit target for 2012 which is a substantial increase o. 2011 figures. We have not obtained final approval from our regulator hence I am not able to give you actual figures. But overall it 2012 was a good year. It is difficult to talk about market share for reinsurance across Africa because of lack of data, however in Nigeria we dominate the life reinsurance and have substantial share of the non life reinsurance market. We have a good share of the market in east Africa and of the Francophone countries.
– Since October 2012, you are an insurance actor in Africa’s French speaking countries. Why have you started with Abidjan ? Do you feel a big difference between the Africa French and English speaking countries?
Actually we started operation in French speaking countries since 2005 when we opened our branch office in Douala. Our philosophy is to be close to our market and we realized it is difficult to cover the whole of the francophone countries from Douala. Hence we opened a new office in Abidjan to serve francophone west Africa in march 2012 and we launched that office in October 2012. Douala office will now focus on Francophone central Africa.
There is a big difference between Africa French and English speaking countries; biggest being language. But more seriously there is a single insurance code for the francophone countries but we do not have that for the English speaking countries. Having said that insurance is an international business hence our approach on the technical side is the same across all territories. Cultures are different from one country to the other hence, to service our clients we believe we have to be close to them. Consequently, we have organized Africa into the various regions and service each region from a carefully selected base.
-Africa is issuing less than 1% of premiums in the World Market. How can we explain this gap?
Despite all efforts by various African governments to keep the insurance premiums generated from a particular country in that country, apart from South Africa, most of the insurance premiums generated end up in Europe and the US. There are two major reasons, one is the proliferation of small under-capitalized insurance companies across the continent and the other is the trend by multinationals to have a group Insurance policy written from the home country in Europe or Zin the US?
-The African equity market remains very narrow. Why are big insurers like C-Re are not playing a major role in improving the activities in Africa’s stocks market?
We are a leading player in the Nigerian capital market, however insurance liabilities except for life insurance are short term hence much in investment must be short term. On the other hand life business that is long term in the nature hence suitable for equity investment is not well developed in Africa except in South Africa. In South Africa where life business is well developed, the insurance companies drive the capital market.