Britam of Kenya Plans to Enter $5 Billion Congo Insurance Market

June 11, 2024 by and

Britam Holdings Ltd. is hunting for opportunities to enter the massive but under-served insurance market in Democratic Republic of Congo later this year.

Kenya’s biggest listed insurer by market value with operations in seven African economies is chiefly seeking an acquisition, but could establish a greenfield operation, according to Chief Executive Officer Tom Gitogo. It will initially launch life and general insurance products, before introducing asset management, he said.

Congo is an attractive market with Africa’s fourth-biggest population of about 100 million people and insurance penetration — the ratio of gross direct insurance premiums to gross domestic product — is below the continent’s average of 2.6% and a global average of 7.4% as calculated by Deloitte LLP.

“We think it can be as big as Kenya in a few years for our group,” Gitogo said.

Congo’s national investment promotion agency estimates the market could be as big as $5 billion. The extractive industry alone is valued at about $1 billion, Alain Kaninda Ngalula, the head of the nation’s insurance regulator known as ARCA, told Geopolis in February. President Felix Tshisekedi wants major economic players including mining companies to pay premiums inside Congo and not buy cover outside the country.

Africa’s second-largest nation by area is one of the world’s poorest countries despite being the second-biggest source of copper and the largest producer of cobalt, a key ingredient in many EV batteries.

Congo liberalized its insurance industry about a decade ago, enabling competition to the state-owned monopoly Société National d’Assurances.

Closely held Mayfair Insurance Co. expanded to Congo in 2020, according to its website. Other Kenya-based insurers keen on the market include Jubilee Holdings Ltd. and CIC Insurance Group Ltd.

Expansion into Congo “is something that is in our plans,” CIC CEO Patrick Nyaga said.

Africa’s insurance market was $87.4 billion in 2023 and the size could reach $154 billion by 2032, according to research by IMARC Group.

Britam controlled a fifth of long-term and 8.2% of general underwritten gross premiums in Kenya by end-2023, according to Kenya’s Insurance Regulatory Authority. The country’s penetration rate was 2.29% in 2022, it said.

Photograph: Birere market in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo credit: Arlette Bashizi/Bloomberg