Posted on Friday, 07 August 2015 14:57

We have a strong skill set in Africa - Delphine Maidou

By Charlie Hamilton

Chief executive, Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty AfricaAllianz's Maidou says insurance companies should remind corporate clients about the strength of capacity in africa and governments should protect local industries to drive growth.

The Africa Report: Africa has very low insurance penetration rates. How can they be increased?

Delphine Maidou: It always comes down to awareness and education. People have to see the value of buying insurance products. The other thing is that a lot of African products that could be insured here end up being insured outside Africa.

We are looking to expand outside West Africa. South Africa is a vibrant market

Large corporate clients tend to place their insurance premiums in the UK market or in markets in Asia despite the fact that we have a strong skill set in Africa. That is one battle that the African insurance market needs to focus on more.

You always hear how there is not enough expertise, skills or capacity in Africa to be able to handle the insurance industry here, but that is not true.

So this is as much a public relations battle as a product battle?

It's a public relations battle with the corporate segment, but also with the finance ministries of the world and Africa in particular.

When you look at East Africa, or if you look at a country like Nigeria, they have local content laws to help protect the local insurance industry.

We just need to make sure we find a balance to support the market here and show there is the expertise and the quality for this.

Will your focus be on non-life or life insurance products? Which countries is Allianz Africa targeting for growth for 2015 and beyond?

Non-life products are growing, but we should not turn our attention from life products as well. I would say that our focus would be on non-life for the next few years.

In terms of countries, it's the usual suspects: countries where gross domestic product growth is 5% or higher. If you look at the value of the top five, then it gives you a good view of where we are headed.

We opened an office in Ghana a couple of years ago. We are looking to expand in other parts of the continent outside of West Africa as well.

We have a big portfolio in South Africa, which is a market that is quite vibrant right now. When we look at our footprint, yes, there is a lot in West Africa, but that is a result of our history.

You will see over the next couple of years that we will extend beyond that with a real focus on South Africa.

How will you achieve this growth?

It depends on how much we have accomplished in a country up to that point. One thing you have to remember [is that] in some of these countries we are already present, both through our insurance brands and through capacity support to some of these companies there.

When you look at our physical presence, there are about 14 countries where we are present, but we also offer products in a wider range of countries, around 38.

Much has been written about the analysis of 'big data'. How important is this?

The analysis of big data is particularly relevant to the micro-insurance industry. It is also important when you look at natural catastrophes for large corporate risk.

Overall, it is an area of the industry that we will need to look at very closely.

Historical data analysis gives you a view of what is coming next, but at the same time it does have its limitations. I don't know if data would have predicted Hurricane Katrina.

There is talk that Google may one day enter the insurance sector. Would you fear the arrival of such a rival?

There is nothing that surprises me any more when it comes to insurance products. We have telecommunications companies doing insurance and banking now, so there is a lot of that crossover.

But for strong firms such as Allianz, the arrival of a new player would not pose any threat to us. ●

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