By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The opportunities for growth in Africa’s insurance industry are huge despite recent economic and political uncertainty, a report issued by PwC on Africa’s insurance industry has said.
It noted that the insurance industry has done well to adapt to continuous disruption, with technological advances now considered the most important global trend disrupting the industry.
The report, titled ‘Ready and Willing: African insurance industry poised for growth,’ further said despite the additional pressures of unrelenting regulatory and insurance accounting changes, and the huge costs associated with the changes, there are also some positive developments and opportunities for growth.
The survey comes at a time when economies on the African continent are starting to show signs of real growth on the back of recovering global commodity prices.
Victor Muguto, Long-term Insurance Leader for PwC Africa says: “The insurance industry across Africa continues to be one of the most disrupted, but at the same time the industry continues to innovate and adapt to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth that are also emerging.
“In the years following the global financial crisis, economic and political uncertainty across the continent slowed down economic and insurance sector growth. Despite this, Africa’s insurance market remains one of the least penetrated in the world and the opportunities for growth are tremendous.”
Top trends driving change in Africa’s insurance markets
Africa’s insurance industry is facing more disruption than any other industry, posing challenges for some while opening up business opportunities for others. The pace of change in the insurance industry has taken place more rapidly than originally anticipated and will accelerate further.
“Leading insurers are already implementing key strategies to focus on new customer behaviours and demographic shifts. The need to be agile in the face of a rapidly changing technological environment has never been more vital,” says Pieter Crafford, Financial Services Advisory Leader for PwC South Africa.
The survey identifies four main themes that are transforming the African insurance industry:
Technology and data ‘revolution’: Technology and data are now considered the most important global trend disrupting the industry, but they are also increasingly being used by the industry to accelerate growth. Across all of Africa, the increased use of technology, on the back of the exponential growth of mobile phones, has significantly contributed to the large amount of new customers and more tailored products. Technology presents insurers with powerful tools to better understand customer needs and expectations through data mining capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI).
However, it is expensive and not always easy for insurers to “go it alone”. Consequently, some insurers have formed partnerships with technology companies to improve operational efficiency and respond quickly to changing customer expectations. Technology, specifically mobile phones, social media, and data analytics are seen as the top enablers to increase access to new customers, at reduced cost and to analyse behavioural data, in order to design new, more appropriate products.
Regulatory and accounting changes: Behind technology, insurers also identified stringent risk based prudential capital and market conduct regulations as the second most disruptive issue. By now, most insurers are used to regulations and this has become “business as usual”. Insurers across the African continent have embraced the regulatory changes, and are ready and willing to comply with new legislation and regulations. But, while most insurers have adopted new ways of compliance, the introduction of IFRS 17 is also expected to add new pressure.
It is also positive to note that that the intensity of regulatory concerns is reducing among insurers. Fewer survey respondents (2017:61%) had concerns about the burden of regulation dampening risk appetite and stifling growth compared to 90% of respondents in 2014. Although the unrelenting regulatory changes come with increased costs and implementation challenges, they also present hidden opportunities for insurers to better manage risk, and allocate capital more appropriately. Some of the new regulations are expected to prompt insurers to redesign simpler and more appropriate products for customers. For example, the less onerous regulatory capital and conduct regulations being introduced by the pending Microinsurance framework in South Africa offer alternatives to reduce the costs of insurance at the lower end of the market
Convergence, the new “Scramble” for Africa’s customers: Changing demographics and social changes, in particular the rise of a middle class, are driving insurers, bankers, and non-traditional players such as retailers and mobile operators to compete for the power of owning customers and customer information. We have started to see a convergence of insurers and bankers around customers. While most of the major banks have had insurance operations for years, there has been a renewed interest by other banks to also start insurance operations. Likewise, some insurers are setting up separate banking operations, and mobile phone operations and retailers are pushing in. All of this is with the aim of owning more customers and cross selling various products to them.
In addition, insurers are also adopting multichannel distribution strategies and taking more direct ownership of their customer data and relationships. They are designing simpler products leaning towards technology based direct mobile and online channels of distribution. While the more complex products will still require intermediation, the use of brokers may gradually reduce as insurers invest in their own in-house channels.
Talent shortages – workforce of the future: Insurers also highlighted talent shortages as a top issue in our survey. This is notable in the areas of technology and actuarial skills. In order to attract and retain talent, insurers need to invest more in training their “workforce of the future”. Alongside this, employee expectations are changing. Employees of the future expect better work-life balance. The majority of insurers surveyed are already prepared for change, with 83% of survey respondents indicating that they either had prepared or were moderately prepared to establish a more flexible working culture to support employee work-life balance.
Insurers should not only be thinking about or investing in a workforce of the future. They should also start thinking about jobs that may not yet exist.
While the African insurance industry is going through significant change and client expectations are changing the rise of the new middle class and digital natives offers new opportunities for insurers, using technology, to better understand their customers and use customer data for more relevant product design and better pricing for risk. Insurers need to ensure that they can do so while navigating increasing regulatory compliance issues, overhauling legacy IT systems, and investing in a workforce of the future. Operational procedures and business structures will also need to be updated to become more efficient.
“Insurers across Africa face exciting new opportunities for growth on the back of a rising middle class and increased demand for new and innovative solutions. Most insurers know what to do – the winners will be those that are best at execution,” Crafford says.
“Insurers, who are client-centric, innovative, technologically up-to-date, and who invest in a workforce of the future, will lead the charge to increase insurance penetration levels in Africa,” Muguto concludes.
Nigeria’s Crude Oil Refining Capacity to Hit 1.2 million bpd in 5 Years—NCDMB
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has expressed optimism that in the next five years, crude oil refineries in the country would be able to refine not less than 1.2 million barrels per day.
The Executive Secretary of the organisation, Mr Simbi Wabote, while speaking at the maiden NCDMB Nigerian Content Midstream/Downstream Oil & Gas Summit in Lagos themed Towards Maximizing Potentials in the Midstream and Downstream Oil & Gas Sector – A Local Content Perspective, said, “About 400,000 barrels per day is expected from the rehabilitation of NNPC refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna using target performance of not less than ninety per cent of nameplate capacity.
“The Greenfield element of the roadmap covers the mechanically complete 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery in Lagos and the 200,000 barrels per day BUA Refinery in Akwa Ibom state.”
He disclosed that the NCDMB has partnered with major operators in the industry such as NNPC, Waltersmith, Azikel, and Atlantic Refinery among other stakeholders to help grow domestic refining capacity.
Mr Wabote also said that Nigerian content is targeted to achieve 70 per cent in the Nigerian oil and gas industry by the year 2027.
“Based on our 10-year strategic roadmap to achieve 70 per cent Nigerian Content target in the Nigerian oil and gas industry by the year 2027, the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry represent key areas to derive and extract value to meet our set target,” he said.
According to Mr Wabote, there is an opportunity to maximize potential in the midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, especially in the area of employment, entry barriers for businesses, and profit margin in the LPG value chain, energy security and social impact.
“It is important to highlight that this development goal goes beyond the oil and gas but has linkage to other sectors of the economy covering construction, ICT, agriculture, Research and Development, Education, and others.
“NCDMB is serving as a catalyst to enhance the realization of the refining roadmap,” the NCDMB boss stated.
He also emphasized the importance of the completion of projects undertaken by the board and partners, saying, “There is no doubt that these giant strides in the midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry are indeed the envy of many African countries. It is however important that we finish off the projects under development so that the associated values and opportunities could be realized.”
”The need to share investment and skills across the borders within Africa, indigenous research and development, funding structure for hydrocarbon projects, and others were key factors identified as focus areas to ensure our readiness to take our destiny in our hands.
“I am delighted that APPO has signed an MOU with Afrexim Bank to set the ball rolling in addressing the funding challenge,” he added.
Identity Management System Will Reduce Unclaimed Dividends—SEC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has expressed confidence that the identity management system being developed for the Nigerian capital market will reduce the problems of unclaimed dividends.
The high unclaimed dividends in the system have been a source of worry for the regulator, prompting the introduction of the e-dividend mandate, which made it possible for shareholders to receive their cash rewards directly into their bank accounts.
One of the issues discovered to be fuelling the fallow dividends is the identity management crisis and to eliminate this, SEC is coming up with an initiative to allow investors to regularise their shares bought with different identities into a single account.
Over the weekend, the Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, received members of the Committee on Identity Management for the capital market in Abuja and he described identity theft as a fraudulent practise of using another person’s name and personal information to obtain shares, credit and loans, among others.
He added that the commission decided to engage relevant stakeholders in a bid to resolve issues of identity management to tackle the problem of unclaimed dividends.
According to him, the problem of unclaimed dividends has to do with identity management, hence, the efforts to harmonize various databases of investors and facilitate data accuracy in the market as well as increase investors’ education to stem the trend.
Mr Yuguda, who expressed satisfaction with the work of the committee so far, added that stakeholder engagements would commence in earnest to ensure the success of the project.
While thanking the members of the panel for lending their support and resources to the project, he also expressed confidence in the success of the scheme that it would build a greater Nigeria and impact unborn generations.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the team, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, commended the agency on the recent release of Rules on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets, saying that it was a step in the right direction.
Mr Aig-Imoukhuede said the committee’s work had exposed the need for standardization of systems within the Nigerian capital market that would support Open Finance which the SEC can drive, adding that the SEC could leverage on the committee to develop the framework for the Nigerian capital market.
According to him, “The committee had clearly defined the task ahead in a roadmap and also identified that the project would be carried out in stages supported by a consultant with recourse to the SEC on a regular basis.
“The committee is committed to ensuring that the customer journey for investors is such that would cause a revolution in the Nigerian capital market, thereby making our market attractive to the tech-savvy and younger generation.”
LBS, NowNow Unveil Financial Literacy Initiative
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A financial literacy initiative designed to drive financial inclusion growth in Nigeria has been unveiled by the Lagos Business School (LBS) and NowNow, a leading African B2B and B2C fintech company.
The LBS is embarking on this project through its Sustainable Inclusive Digital Financial Services (SIDFS). The fintech will use this programme to ensure smart financial planning and reach its customers, especially those who do not have bank accounts.
“We strongly believe that financial inclusion should be complemented by financial education. In this regard, we are excited to partner with the SIDFS of the LBS to provide financial literacy directly to Nigerians.
“Our partnership with SIDFS is critical to moving the financial inclusion needle to ensure citizens have the necessary knowledge and skills to use financial services,” the Partnership Director of NowNow Digital Services, Mr Lekan Akinjide, stated.
The Programme Lead at SIDFS, Olayinka David-West, disclosed that; “Since 2016, LBS’ Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Financial Services has supported the financial services ecosystem with rich evidence-based insights, particularly about women, youths, and rural dwellers, who are the most excluded groups.
“Research shows that financial literacy is a driver of financial inclusion and providing financial education can produce outstanding results in the quest to integrate excluded people into the formal financial system.
“We are excited to work with NowNow to improve financial literacy among Nigeria’s most excluded demography and look forward to the impact and outcome of our collective efforts.”
The LBS, with the support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Sustainable Digital Financial Services Project in Nigeria in 20152016.
The initiative engages in research and advocacy projects with the goal of creating an inclusive ecosystem for financial services and understanding.
The SIDFS supports the development and promotion of sustainable solutions to Nigeria’s financial inclusion challenges and helps more Nigerians access financial services.
In partnership with SIDFS, NowNow will adapt the content into an easily digestible format for specific audiences. The fintech company aims to bridge the gap between the banking system and the unbanked population by providing educational content through different channels to raise awareness and establish financial inclusion.
NowNow’s mission is to deliver best in class financial services to SMEs, banking agents and consumers, and provide financial empowerment to Africans. The long-term partnership would be in phases with the initial offering focused on women before expanding to youths and then to other sub-categories.
The strategy to focus on women at the initial stage is informed by the statistics that they form a greater percentage of the financially excluded groups and are more excluded from the formal sector in comparison to the other groups.
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