Mr Charles Mporanyi is the Chairman of Soras Group, a Rwanda-based investment and service company
In this interview with AnnualMeetings Daily, Mr Mporanyi provides fresh perspectives into insurance penetration and prospects in Rwanda in particular, and Africa as a whole. Excerpts :
How would you appraise progress in the Rwandan insurance sector so far ?
Well, Soras is the leader in the Rwandan insurance sector. The sector is growing very fast. For now, the industry boasts seven companies, excluding two state-owned companies — Mutual Military Insurance (MMI) and the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB). The fact that the sector has witnessed the entry of five insurance companies including Soras in the last two years shows that it is growing. Today, the number has risen sharply. And these companies are mainly from East Africa, especially Kenya.
Although the number of companies has risen so fast, the rate of insurance penetration in Rwanda has not been that high. I think it is just two percent ; so there is still room for improvement. I think Rwanda is the first country in Africa which has health insurance for its citizens. Such government initiative is very well appreciated.
You often boast that Soras is the number one insurance firm in Rwanda. What makes the company a top player in the industry ?
Historically, we are the first private insurance company in Rwanda. The support we got from an international company called UAP Insurance from France put us in good position to be the number one in Rwanda. Indeed, their support gave us sound footing in the sector. We are also a top player as we boast the best and brightest professionals and committed staff in the industry. The uniqueness of Soras stems from its professionalism. And our operations are computerized to ensure efficient service delivery.
Are there challenges you encounter in your quest to pioneer insurance penetration in Rwanda ?
Price competition is one of the major challenges we face in the industry. Some companies engage in unprofessional practices. In order to attract more clients, they under-price most insurance packages and this does not augur well for the industry. But, the regulator is working to address this practice to ensure professionalism in the industry. We hope to see it succeed because it would lead to sustainable development in the sector. Another challenge is the fact that Rwandans need to be sensitized on the importance of taking up insurance policies. Insurance is not compulsory but necessary as it guards against risks.
To what extent has government policies helped to create an enabling environment for the growth and development of the sector ?
Actually, the Rwandan government is helping companies operating in all the sectors to make progress, especially through favourable policies.
How do you view the future of Soras Group ?
The main goal of Soras Group of Companies is to expand its regional market. We have already established our operations in Burundi and intend to expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are equally looking forward to partnering with a big international insurance company as part of our expansion plans and delivering quality service to the people. In the financial sector, size matters. Many see being ‘big’ as a sign of strong, solid liquidity profile. So, we want to partner with a reputable insurance company because we think it will provide us with the opportunity to move to the next phase of our expansion and improvement in our professionalism as well as service delivery.
Finally, what role can a vibrant insurance sector play in Africa’s economic development ?
There are many things insurance can do to help spur sustainable development in Africa. Insurance encourages investment, which is very critical for Africa’s development. To develop a country, you have to encourage or cultivate the culture of saving and safeguarding against unforeseen risks. Saving for the future is a good development. When you help people to conserve their assets by insuring them against losses, it is a very good development, incase of any risks. With insurance cover, you are insured against any loss of your assets. Saving towards important future projects can easily be achieved through different insurance packages. So, in a nutshell, Africa will benefit a lot from deepened insurance penetration and access. Governments and stakeholders across the continent and beyond should close ranks to encourage the growth and expansion of the industry.