President William Ruto opens Bimalab Africa Insurtech Summit in Nairobi on 15th November 2023
President William Ruto has urged the insurance sector to tap into digital innovation to address the challenge of low insurance uptake in the country.
In a speech read on his behalf by Economic Planning Principal Secretary James Muhati, the President noted that digital technology stood to enhance insurance distribution, increase access to insurance, reduce costs and create sufficient scale for a viable business.
The speech was delivered during the official opening of the Bimalab Africa Insurtech Summit on the 15th of November 2023 at the Edge Convention Centre in Nairobi.
The summit brought together experts, investors, and innovators to examine the relationship between technology and the African insurance market with the theme, “Shaping the Future of Insurtech in Africa”.
The Head of State said that Kenya’s sizeable population and growing start-up scene coupled with a growing middle class, greater access to smartphone and internet coverage as well as a sound insurance regulatory framework showed promise for insurance innovation and penetration.
He highlighted the progress made by the African continent in the past thirty years from improvements in life expectancy, higher school enrollments to the consistent decline in carbon emissions.
To this end, he said, it was imperative to manage disaster risks and urban difficulties.
‘About 90% of all disasters in Africa are weather and climate driven. This means that we need to quickly develop relevant risk transfer solutions for our continent,’ the President said.
While acknowledging the challenges faced by the sector in the advent of Covid-19, President Ruto also lauded the economic contribution of public education programs such as ‘Bima Mashinani’.
In 2021, the industry recorded KES 273.71 billion in gross premium translating to a growth of 16.6%. Kenya was ranked fourth in Africa in terms of gross premium income after South Africa, Morocco and Egypt. The industry total assets increased by 11.1% to KES 850.51 billion in the same year.
The President noted that although the continent’s insurance sector was primed for growth, technology was needed to help unlock the innovations needed to deliver more affordable and relevant products to local consumers.
‘Most people who wish to get insurance products and services are deterred by high premiums and products that don’t meet consumer needs,’ said Dr Ruto while asking the partners to develop products tailored to the needs of the underserved market segments like MSMEs.
As the birthplace of BimaLab Africa, Kenya’s reputation as an innovation powerhouse and ‘silicon savannah’ made it the ideal country to host the summit.
BimaLab Africa invests in and supports high-impact startups that improve the resilience of underserved and climate-vulnerable communities. It also creates a strong innovation ecosystem by engaging investors, capacity-building networks, corporate institutions with a view to unlock capital, attract talent, and share knowledge about insurance solutions tailored to the needs of those communities.
The summit also saw the unveiling of the De-risking Inclusion and Value Enhancement project (DRIVE). This is a $360.5 million project funded by the World Bank designed to improve pastoralists’ access to financial services include them in value chains and facilitate livestock trade in the Horn of Africa.
The project aims to impact more than 1.6 million pastoralists drawn from 2,500 pastoralist groups over a five-year period. It will enable the region to adapt to the impacts of climate change, commercialize livestock production in pastoralist communities, and ensure the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups, including women in the sector.