When KPMG, the advisory company, held its inaugural East Africa Insurance Conference in February, organisers were surprised that more than 100 industry participants attended. James Norman, KPMG’s regional insurance head, was equally enthused when a similar number attended the launch of a report on the sector last week.
“There’s a real buzz about the sector because opportunities are immense,” he says. “There’s a young population, a growing middle class — most with smartphones — and an increasingly large diaspora coming back,” he says. “There’s a whole new generation of savvy consumers with disposable incomes and large infrastructure projects being built.” Lukas Mueller, head of north and sub-Saharan Africa at reinsurer Swiss Re, is also bullish on the region, describing it as a “giant waking up”. He says the opportunities are many and varied — from infrastructure and agriculture to catering for the growing middle class. “The insurance market is closely linked to economic growth,” he says. “When incomes rise you have more insurable assets.” However, he also describes the sub-Saharan African insurance market as a “diverse picture”.