Faced with the drop in underwriting of individual insurance premiums by more than 50% since the start of the pandemic, the South African insurer Sanlam Ltd. has suspended expansion plans in Ethiopia and Egypt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heinie Werth, managing director of Sanlam’s emerging markets unit, said the insurer will focus on the countries in which it is already located. “We are focusing on the countries in which we are already located,” he told Africa Report. “We don’t want to go too far under the current circumstances. We are in no rush, ”he added.
Ethiopia and Egypt are still on the ropes. “We would always like to go,” said Werth, but was careful not to indicate a deadline. “Last September, Werth said talks with a potential partner in Ethiopia were” very advanced “and that the company was also considering a possible Egyptian partnership.
The Sanlam group, which operates in 33 countries following the acquisition of the Moroccan company Saham Finance, is seeking to diversify into highly concentrated markets. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African insurer says it wants to focus on building customer loyalty and managing costs and claims. In late March, the company said economic growth in all of its markets would be lower than expected, which poses risks to the growth of new insurer business. The situation may lead to opportunities for consolidation, said Werth. “We will prepare for this. We will be ready, “said the manager, who expects April and May to be” very difficult months “. Note that Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) has mobilized $ 2.3 million to repay 25 African countries for the fight against the spread of Coronavirus through all of its presence markets.