Insuring Africa’s development
Zep-Re are working towards becoming a leading reinsurer in Africa
Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Nick Norris
Zep-Re traces its roots back to 21st November 1990 when it was created by an agreement of Heads of State and Government for the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) region in Mbabane, Swaziland. It was mandated to promote trade in the insurance and reinsurance sector of the region and is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.
The company has been in operation since 1993 and has regional offices in Douala, Lusaka, Harare, and a Retakaful window in Khartoum, Sudan. Zep-Re also provides Takaful reinsurance solutions. Takaful insurance is a type of Islamic insurance, where members contribute money into a pooling system in order to guarantee each other against loss or damage. Takaful branded insurance is based on Sharia, Islamic religious law, and explains how it is the responsibility of individuals to cooperate and protect each other.
Zep-Re’s operational activities are driven by the desire to provide excellent technical services to all their clients and to actively participate in and support the development of the region’s insurance and reinsurance industry.
Working with Partners
In these times when business presents itself in increasingly complex risks, Zep-Re strives to provide its clients with more than the traditional reinsurers have offered their clients in the past. Zep- Re has adopted a holistic approach to client services by striving to provide a wide range of services aimed at helping the client meet their goals with minimum fuss. The company understand that the relationship with their clients is long term and as such strive to be partners, as opposed to developing one time relationships based on premiums and claims.
To this end, Zep-Re has ensured that its clients both within and outside the region are afforded all manner of services including: product design, capacity development, risk assessment and pricing tools. “We understand that each client is different and the needs of each sub-region are different. Therefore, we continuously strive to offer tailor-made solutions that are responsive to the needs of each individual client.”
Through continuing training publications, workshops and seminars undertaken at the company, the employees use this new knowledge to inform and educate clients in the knowledge of business, risk management and new practices that are being adopted by leading industry players.
The company’s rich experience and skill set together with an ingrained knowledge of the region’s insurance industry allows Zep-Re to deliver unique solutions that are designed to meet its clients’ individual needs. Zep-Re’s objectives are based on the commitment to provide value through technical expertise and professional service to its clients.
20 Years and Counting
Zep-Re marked its 20th anniversary last year, and has many reasons to celebrate not just the passing of a milestone, but in its achievements in regard to its core mandate of developing the region’s insurance industry. Some of its major achievements over the years included its growth in business. Zep-Re has recorded a 1,640 percent growth in business from US$5 million at inception to US$82 million in 2012. It also recorded a 3,850 percent growth in assets, from US$4 million to US$154 million in the same period.
The regional reinsurer has also enjoyed consistent growth in profits, 2012 being the most profitable year for the company, with a profit of US$11.9 million.
Zep-Re is among the top security rated reinsurers in Africa whose main goal is to offer reliable security to its clients to enable them promptly pay their claims. The company is currently rated “B+” by AM Best, a US-based rating agency. Zep-Re enjoys a unique position with a diverse mix of shareholders who include countries of the region, public and private sector companies and international development and finance institutions. It also maintains adequate underwriting capacity and retentions that allows for growth with its dual role of being an avenue of returns for its investors, and to also promote the insurance industry within the COMESA region. One of its driving principles is: Africa must develop Africa.
A Responsible Corporate Citizen
As a regional institution, Zep-Re accepts and takes to heart its responsibility towards society as a whole. One of the core values of the company is to be a responsible corporate citizen. The company’s CSR policy has mainly focused on education, health and poverty alleviation.
Among the CSR initiatives undertaken by the company has been the rehabilitation of the Ngong Forest in Nairobi, Kenya. Zep-Re partnered with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and was given one hectare of forest land in Ngong Hills on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Ngong Hills were reclaimed by the Government of Kenya and gazetted for reforestation as part of rehabilitating a formerly large river catchment area. Zep-Re recognises the importance of reforestation and the role tress play in reducing the carbon foot prints of modern lifestyles. The company has willingly joined the worldwide reforestation initiatives and they want to be long term partners in this project. Zep-Re finalised a 3 year lease with the Kenya Forestry Service so that they can plant more trees in Ngong and maintain them. “We intend to partner with the local community to tend after the new forest and carry out educational programmes aimed at ensuring the message that Trees for Life is passed on to as many people and generations as possible.”