7 July 2021, NAIROBI: On 7th July 2021, the Government of Rwanda signed an agreement with ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) allowing the regional reinsurer to set up an office in Kigali.
The signing ceremony was officiated by Hon. Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Government of Rwanda, and Ms Hope Murera, ZEP-RE Managing Director.
ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) was set up in 1990 by COMESA member states (and Rwanda was a founding member) with the mandate to create capacity in the insurance sector and contribute to the region’s economic development. The company currently has offices in 9 countries and writes business in over 50 countries mainly in Africa, but also in India and the Middle East.
Over the last 30 years, since inception, the company has invested more than US$ 1 billion in the member countries and paid claims totalling over US$ 800 million.
Kigali joins a growing list of cities across the continent that are hosting ZEP-RE offices and bringing services closer to the people. These cities include Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Douala, Harare, Kampala, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Lusaka, and the Nairobi head office.
Opening the Kigali office is a move expected to create more business opportunities for ZEP-RE, where the Government of Rwanda has a 6% shareholding. This agreement is also set to increase the levels of interaction between the local businesses and ZEP-RE, which has also invested locally in the Bank of Kigali and subscribed to the Government of Rwanda Eurobond.
The reinsurer already provides reinsurance cover for major investment projects including Bugesera Airport, Kigali Convention Centre, Marriot Hotels, Kivu Power, Shema, among others.
Being on the ground in Kigali will translate into a stronger bond, quality interaction, and the ability to handle claims in a faster, more efficient manner. Other than engaging with clients closely, ZEP-RE, in choosing Kigali, believed that a physical presence can help grow the business at a faster rate and serve a wider community.
Moreover, with a local presence, and other than providing solutions faster, the re-insurer will be in a better position to engage the Central Bank of Rwanda, which acts as the national insurance regulator with a view to developing the insurance sector further and potentially increase investments in the country.
Insurance penetration in Africa is at a paltry 2% and ZEP-RE’s entry into Rwanda, where penetration is below the continent’s average is timely, and may help boost the untapped potential and facilitate financial inclusion in the underserved segments of the population.
The reinsurer is keen to dialogue with regulators and policymakers on the barriers that are preventing insurance products’ uptake by the general population, and ways in which these challenges can be overcome.
Once opened, the local office will be headed by a country manager, who will be reporting to the Chief Executive based in the Nairobi head office.
The Rwanda market will also benefit more directly from the ZEP-RE Academy, the premier insurance trainer on the continent. The Academy has conducted insurance and reinsurance training programmes for the Rwandan insurance market and continues to do so.
The Academy was established to deliver the founding mandate of ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) of training of insurance and reinsurance industry personnel in the sub-region, conducting research and development in order to contribute to innovation and new product offerings, developing of underwriting manuals, articles, and other publications, mentoring of young leaders.
ZEP-RE also funds girls’ education in Rwanda and is currently supporting Gashora Girls’ Academy through scholarships for the vulnerable girls.
Opening an office in Kigali will therefore allow the company to do more to scale up the partnership through direct contribution to projects in the host country.