• Hussain noted that unlike some African countries, Kenya has developed a diverse industrial base and also has an advanced financial system in terms of bank and insurance coverage.
• “Specifically what is required in Africa is a strong pool of human capital and professionals who know the needs and issues of the continent and its specificities,” Hussain said.
Pan-African (re)insurance company, Africa Specialty Risks (ASR), has said that its presence in the African continent encourages more foreign direct investments.
This is because it provides risk mitigation solutions to local and global customers across the African continent giving them the confidence to grow their businesses.
The company, started in August 2020 amidst the ravaging challenges brought about by the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, has been steadily spreading its wings across various markets in Africa and abroad.
Speaking to the Star, Senior Underwriter of Political Risk Insurance and Trade Credit, Amir Hussain said ASR intends to help Africa maximise on its potential by providing bespoke corporate and specialty risk insurance products that meet the needs of its customers thereby de-risking investment into Africa.
“The reason we chose Africa is because we feel that providing the right insurance product is vital to creating an attractive business environment and mobilizing private sector capital. The majority of our staff are either African or have worked across Africa as well as the London insurance and reinsurance market, and because of that we truly understand the needs and issues of the continent and we can provide appropriate insurance covers,” he said.
“Our business is predicated on our belief for Africa's long-term development prospects. We think that Africa offers significant opportunities and we want to help facilitate the realization of these opportunities by providing the right insurance products. What that in turn will do, is increase the level of foreign investment into and across Africa which will increase employment and reduce poverty.”
Hussain noted that unlike some African countries, Kenya has developed a diverse industrial base and also has an advanced financial system in terms of bank and insurance coverage.
He added that the country is also gifted with resources, including; young and educated population, and its strategic location in East Africa, which he termed as key when one wants to look at the entire eastern and western Africa regions.
“The Kenyan market is more developed and more amenable to the products that we offer” he stated.
Hussain noted that the continent needs specific expertise to realise its full potential and that is what ASR offers. He said that the company intends to scale its business by establishing hubs in other African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire.
The underwriter said that to be able to offer Africa the comprehensive services and expertise it requires, it is important to “maintain constant analysis of local and regional issues impacting the continent”.
“Specifically what is required in Africa is a strong pool of human capital and professionals who know the needs and issues of the continent and its specificities,” Hussain said.
ASR has offices in the United Kingdom, Mauritius and has a presence in Kenya. Some of the risk mitigation services offered by the (re)insurance company include construction, political risk insurance, trade credit, political violence and terrorism, property, energy, liability, parametric and security risks.
In answering the question, what sets Africa Specialty Risks apart from other insurers Hussain noted:
“We are also able to provide a comprehensive insurance framework for businesses and investors to mitigate against current and future perils, such as those caused by climate change. Africa is a continent where agriculture for example employs more than any other sector and climate change is a significant threat, and within that context we can provide covers that mitigate this sort of risk,” Hussain said.
“ Another example is our parametric insurance product which provides payment after a qualifying event, and offers a way to mitigate unpredictable external risks in a way that traditional insurance covers are not able to do. We can align our parametric cover with our traditional indemnity insurance covers to provide a more holistic and comprehensive cover for the market bridging any gaps in cover,” he added.
In 2021, ASR wrote business in 44 African countries across its eight lines of business and participated in risk mitigation of approximately U$ 3.4 billion in Africa through the political risk insurance and trade credit division.
This was done in partnership with local insurance service providers they have partnered with to share risks, as well as banks.
“It has obviously been a challenging period especially due to covid-19 and the impact of that on countries however it was necessary for new players to expand the market at a time when capacity had been constrained.”
“We are unique in the sense that we are an international company providing local coverage through those partnerships,” Hussain said.
ASR was founded by Mikir Shah, who was the former CEO of AXA Africa Specialty Risks, and Bryan Howett, the former CEO of Old Mutual's pan-African reinsurance operations.
They are backed by Helios Investment Partners via its latest fund, Helios Investors IV, L.P., whose underlying investors include British International Investment (the UK’s development finance institution, formerly CDC Group), and the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group).