Africa Specialty Risks Group (ASR), which is backed by Helios Investment Partners, has announced the launch of a fully capitalised and licenced reinsurance entity in Mauritius, designed to meet the needs of the African continent.
Helios announced the launch of ASR, in partnership with Mikir Shah, former CEO of AXA Africa Specialty Risks and Bryan Howett, former CEO of Old Mutual’s pan-African reinsurance operations, in September of last year.
At the time, Helios said that it had identified an unmet need in the reinsurance space to expand Africa’s long-term domestic capacity beyond its current capabilities.
Now, less than a year later, ASR has received an Insurance Manager Licence from the Financial Services Commission in Mauritius, enabling it to provide additional African-domiciled capacity to the continent, as the pandemic has seen global reinsurance carriers focus more on their domestic markets.
Through the licence, ASR is looking to create a stable African reinsurance company which will be of real benefit to the region. Coupled with local reinsurance capacity, the new business has also secured a multi-year binder capacity of up to $25 million per risk through a partnership with GIC Re in India, and annual capacity from Peak Re in Hong Kong.
The reinsurance entity in Mauritius will provide additional African domiciled capacity to the company’s current MGA capacity offering.
“We have identified a sustained lack of adequate insurance capacity across Africa, which has been exacerbated further by COVID-19 as global reinsurance providers focus on their home markets. ASR has been established to address this gap by providing specialist risk mitigation products which companies and capital providers operating in Africa have found difficult to access to date. We are pleased that the Reinsurer is to be based in Mauritius, as a well-established hub for financial services and investments in Africa,” said Souleymane Ba, a Partner at Helios Investment Partners.
As well as the reinsurer licence, ASR has also obtained an Insurance Manager licence from the Financial Services Commission in Mauritius, which will act as a managing general agent.
Mikir Shah, CEO of Africa Specialty Risks, said: “We have chosen to set up Africa Speciality Risks Reinsurer in Mauritius as we see it as a central hub for Africa. Mauritius has a naturally bilingual population, allowing us to operate effectively across the vast majority of African countries. It has an educated population, making it an ideal reinsurance hub because there is an abundance of potential skills that can be developed further with training. It already has an established insurer presence expanding into the continent, and we believe that Mauritius has the capability to become the reinsurance hub for Africa.
“Mauritius will be one of our major operations and we are pleased to count on the support of the Mauritian Government and the FSC. We are delighted to have both our Reinsurer and Insurance Manager licences in place as we prepare to establish our business on the ground. We will have underwriting, claims management, office support, compliance, accounting and business development functions in Mauritius. We will shortly be making further announcements regarding our plans for recruitment on the island.”
The reinsurer says that it plans to work with local regulators and clients to develop skills and provide training to local underwriters.
Furthermore, ASR intends to establish business development hubs in six other African countries, including Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Nigeria.
The Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, the Hon. Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, commented: “Mauritius has all the right ingredients to become a reinsurance hub for Africa. Mauritius is a safe, sound and trusted jurisdiction, with a robust legal framework and a well-developed ecosystem for financial services, including insurance. Our jurisdiction is well recognised by investors and international bodies for its ease of doing business.
“Mauritius is also very well connected internationally and is part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),which entered its implementation phase this year, and which is expected to boost intra-Africa trade and investment. It is therefore very timely that Africa Specialty Risks has chosen to domicile its Reinsurer in Mauritius to provide additional choice and capacity to support the growing reinsurance needs of the African continent. I welcome this initiative as a key step forward in reinforcing the position of Mauritius as a reinsurance hub for Africa.
“As the pandemic spreads, the emerging risk of multiple lines of insurance exposed to COVID-19 also grows, leaving insurers, reinsurers, regulators and rating agencies with the daunting task of quantifying that exposure and estimating how it will be allocated between the primary insurance and reinsurance markets. On the other hand, COVID-19 also represents an opportunity for established reinsurers and new entrants. It also signifies an opportunity to reaffirm the purpose of insurance: protecting people, communities and businesses from unexpected risk, while embracing rising societal concerns around sustainability and fairness.”