Afrika ist der wohl spannendste und gegensätzlichste Kontinent – tiefe Armut und unermessliche Bodenschätze gehen Hand in Hand. Die Bevölkerung wächst in atemberaubendem Tempo und es entsteht in vielen Ländern eine immer größere Mittelschicht, die sich gegen finanzielle Risiken absichern möchte. Um den Versicherungsmarkt in Afrika einmal genauer zu beleuchten, hat VWheute hat ein Interview mit dem Afrika- und Versicherungsexperten Oliver Reichert geführt, der seit über zehn Jahren regelmäßig in Afrika die Aufsichtsbehörden bei der Implementierung von Überwachungsmethoden unterstützt. Das Interview wurde in englischer Sprache geführt.
VWheute: Do you see the African middle class growing which might result in a greater demand of insurance products?
Oliver Reichert: There are several aspects to this question. Firstly, there is no doubt that middle classes in many sub-Saharan African countries are growing. Some of those countries have significant populations. For example, Nigeria now has a population of around 190 million, and the middle class would be in the low tens of millions. Kenya has a population of 50 million, Ghana 30 million, and more than 50 percent of the populations of these countries live in cities All three of these countries have fast growing middle classes.
Insurance is not a matter foremost on the minds of their middle classes. The only insurance product they would immediately think of is comprehensive motor insurance. I see that demand could grow quickly of the next several years. On the life side for example, there is likely to be significant increased demand for lifestyle products such as salary continuance.
It’s not all straight forward, though. Generally, insurance has a bad name, and with good reason: in many cases, insurers in Africa have not sold value-for-money products and customer service has been low. To illustrate the point: for many years, the claims ratio in Ghana for non-life products was below 30%. On the life side, endowment policies were sold in a high inflation environment, whereby the payout at the end of the day was pitiful. This bias against insurance products must be overcome.
VWheute: Are there any risks specific to Africa you would not think about in the Western world that could be insured?
Oliver Reichert: At the lower end, there is micro-insurance and funeral insurance, both products are sold at reasonable volumes throughout sub-Saharan Africa. These products are not profitable enough for European insurers to be of great interest.
European insurers wishing to establish operations in Africa should think about expanding the products they offer – such as offering asset/investment management products at wholesale level.
The major opportunity lies, I think, in selling high value insurance products currently sold in Europe, at competitive prices. An example would be income protection - style policies. These products need to be made attractive to middle class Africans – which is easier said than done. Marketing practices would need to be altered to appeal to Africans.
There are also excellent African-invented practices that European insurers should adopt if they establish operations in Africa. For example, there is the “Mpesa” system, invented in Kenya, whereby insurance premiums are paid via the transfer of telephone credits to the insurer, rather than using cash. This system is appropriate for collecting insurance premiums efficiently, as policyholders all have mobile phones, but not everyone has a bank account, and the insurance company then does not have to waste resources through manual collection systems.
VWheute:Is there a best practice example of a European insurance company that invested in an African market?
Oliver Reichert: The only European company I can think of that has made major inroads into the African insurance markets as a whole is Munich Re. Munich Re has a wonderful reputation – similar to Mercedes and BMW. But it operates only in the reinsurance market.
In addition, AXA has established an excellent operation in Nigeria, and is now amongst the five largest insurers there – Nigeria is the largest insurance market by far. AXA is now well known in Nigeria for its user-friendly business practices, and has established an excellent name. AXA also operates in Ghana.
Generally speaking, neither European direct insurers nore North American insurers have done well. In terms of establishing a great presence throughout Africa, the best role models would be the South African insurers/financial services providers Sanlam and Old Mutual. These organisations offer not only insurance products, but also have a flexible enough business model so that in many countries they also offer outsourcing services to competitors and other financial institutions operating in these countries such as pension funds.
These outsourcing services usually comprise administration services and investment asset management services. I suggest that any European insurer wishing to establish insurance operations in Africa studies the Sanlam and Old Mutual business models.
Die Fragen stellte VWheute-Redakteur Christoph Baltzer
Bild: Oliver Reichert (Quelle: Oliver Reichert)