ITV: Matt Lilley, Chief executive, Prudential Africa
TAR: What was attractive about the Nigerian market given your existing Africa footprint?
It was always clear right from the very start of our investment in Africa that we wanted to be very successful in Nigeria and that Nigeria is a huge opportunity for life insurance. Obviously it’s a big population, enormous economy in African terms, but also it’s very underpenetrated in terms of insurance […]. We knew right from the start that Zenith was the partner that we wanted to work with, and so [all it needed] was the time it took to build that relationship with the Zenith team.
It’s quite a competitive market, so what is Prudential’s strategy for growth?
We want to be successful over the long term, which is the only way to do it in life insurance – it’s a long-term product. And we think the long-term prospects of Nigeria are really strong. Economic cycles are a fact of life, and Nigeria is at a different point in the economic cycle than it was four or five years ago.
What initiatives do you plan in order to grow the business?
Life insurance, in particular, is a product that is sold to people rather than bought by people. Your success in growing a life-insurance business is usually a measure of how successful you’ve been at building your distribution channels. And so our energies in Nigeria are going to be focused very heavily on working with our partners at Zenith Bank to build our distribution over the hundreds of branches across the country, and recruiting and training hundreds of advisers to work alongside the bank branches and advise the Zenith customers on ways in which our products could help them.
It’s probably very early at this stage but do you foresee consolidation at some point given the number of insurers in the industry?
We are very happy with the business that we have and with the organic growth prospects that our business has because of the partnership. Consolidation can happen through mergers, but consolidation can also happen naturally by the winners taking more and more of the market.
This interview first appeared in the April 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine