Empowering Africans to drive international growth

30 July 2013 Jonathan Faurie
Jonathan Faurie, FAnews Online Journalist

Jonathan Faurie, FAnews Online Journalist

While South Africa is one of the most developed economies in Africa, often one of the biggest mistakes that international companies make is coming into the South African market with international business practices thinking that they are the solution to t

Significant credit can be given to companies that come into South Africa with a well-defined business model which incorporates African values and addresses African challenges in the proper way. A big announcement coming out of the 2013 IISA conference is that global giant Allianz is looking to come back into South Africa with some ambitious objectives.

Bringing capacity and core values

The African continent offers a plethora of growth opportunities for companies who are geared towards that growth, while there is a slowdown in economic growth in the US, China and Europe, Africa is growing beyond its means and it this growth that attracted Allianz back into a market where its presence is long overdue.

Delphine Maidou, who has just been appointed as the CEO of Allianz South Africa says that the company is bringing the best that the company can offer with a unique approach to solving challenges which Africa presents.

“During a briefing about our entry into the African market, we were questioned at length about how we are going to manage specific challenges. One of the challenges which was highlighted is that the culture of doing is business in Africa is completely different to European markets. A prime example of this is that you may have a power station in Africa which is not equipped with necessary fire extinguishers. Yet you know that the fire will be put out by the community surrounding the power plant because their livelihood depends on that resource,” says Maidou.

Africa at its doorstep

One of the big announcements that Allianz made at the conference is that the company will be running Africa from South Africa. This defies traditional models where Sub-Saharan Africa is run from South Africa while North Africa is run from a European base.

This opens the door to a potentially significant problem. Africa is diverse and there are various business cultures within a continent which was dominated by a number of colonial superpowers. “This is something that Allianz needed to be aware of. We had to adjust our mindset in order to try and find key values which form a common thread,” says Maidou.

Andreas Berger, who is a member of the Allianz board, says that this is easier than one expects. “While there are definitely differing views on business and how it is conducted, at the end of the day the objectives of maximizing profit is the sole aim of African business. It’s just that they achieve it in a different way,” he says.

Editor’s Thoughts:
While there are a number of companies which serve the South African market very well, there are a growing number of international companies which are making a come back into the market and are making their presence well and truly known. While this means that South African insurers need to up their game it is a prime opportunity for brokers and intermediaries to offer a range of products to the market. What effect do you think Allianz will have on the South Africa and African market? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your


Added by Fergus, 30 Jul 2013
The SA market is already somewhat overtraded when it comes to insurance companies, niche underwriters and/or underwriting management agencies. My concern is that in order to make any sort of meaningful impact or obtain the growth necessary to justify their existence, it is going to need aggressive sales tactics. And this will just hurt any initiatives to harden rates on the back of some poor years. Is this sustainable?
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