Africa Re: 45 years of belief and focus on the capacity of Africa

Dr Corneille Karekezi Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re) answers our questions about the Corporation’s history and mission.

Africa Re has been established for over 45 years. To what extent has the Corporation fulfilled its mandate and achieved its objectives as a pan-African entity?

The African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re) is a successful pan-African story that has gone through the different stages of growth to become the renowned financial institution that it is today. The Corporation went through a difficult birth in 1976 during one of the challenging periods in the history of the continent. There were political, economic and social hurdles that seemed insurmountable. Our operations started in 1978 with an authorised capital of $15m of which $10m was subscribed and $5m was paid up.

With regard to the financial rating and creditworthiness, Africa Re is rated A by A.M. Best and A- by S&P. We therefore remain the highest-rated African reinsurer that operates from Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Mauritius, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and South Africa, providing reinsurance services to the whole of Africa and key strategic international markets.

Africa Re remains committed to its development mandate as outlined in the mission: to foster the development of the insurance and reinsurance industry in Africa; to promote the growth of national, regional and sub-regional underwriting and retention capacities; and to support African economic development.

The Corporation conducts regular training and provides targeted technical assistance to industry stakeholders for relevant capacity building. This was recently complemented by the Young Insurance Professional Programme that has enrolled three cohorts of 2,250 trainees from 46 African countries.

Our industry recognition initiative, “African Insurance Awards” held its sixth edition in 2020. Four award categories recognised companies with good profitability, strong corporate governance and innovation including the strategic leaders of those companies. Also, various initiatives financed through the Africa Re Foundation have aimed at building the technical and organisational resources of many African insurance regulatory authorities. The Corporation has the strongest capitalisation of any national, regional or international reinsurer on the continent, exceeding $1bn in 2021.

Africa Re supports African economies through its corporate social responsibility initiatives coordinated by the Africa Re Foundation.

Dr Corneille Karekezi Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re).

As a responsible Corporate Citizen, is Africa Re participating in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and if so, how?

Through the Africa Re Foundation, the Corporation approved a donation of $3.32m to various governments and private institutions at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. This support is directed towards awareness campaigns, preventive measures, acquisition of medical equipment and personal protective equipment.

This is currently being disbursed to the beneficiaries. The entities to receive the donation are the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the African Union ($500,000); eight countries that host Africa Re offices, namely South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mauritius and Morocco ($250,000 each); and 41 insurance associations of Africa Re member states ($20,000 each). For our staff, we have put policies in place to comply with the guidelines from local authorities.

What is Africa Re doing to improve the very low insurance penetration on the continent?

Africa Re supports the insurance industry through highly rated reinsurance capacity, technical assistance in insurance product development and capacity building of human resources. In addition, we support awareness campaigns in some markets on the relevance of insurance. Agriculture being the mainstay of most African economies, agricultural insurance is also an initiative we support through the development of parametric insurance products for small-scale farmers to guarantee loans from governments. The Corporation also encourages insurance related technology companies and equally sponsors research and development in the insurance industry.