Kenya domiciled reinsurer Zep Re, or PTA Reinsurance Company, has established a new regional office in Ethiopia in an effort to boost its reinsurance operations in Africa’s second largest market by population, according to reports from the region.
The new office has now opened following the signing of a hosting agreement by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) and Zep Re around six months ago, and was launched at a ceremony held recently at the Sheraton Addis Hotel, Ethiopia.
allafrica.com reports that Hope Murers, Managing Director of Zep Re, said its “primary aim of opening an office is to be closer to our clients in Ethiopia.”
The establishment of a regional Zep Re branch comes just 11 months after the launch of Ethiopia Re, the country’s first local reinsurance firm. And also comes six years after reinsurer Africa Re launched an office in Ethiopia, the only other foreign-owned re/insurance entity to open an office in the region.
According to reports the new Zep Re unit will operate under reinsurance licences and look to target all insurers within the local currency, which could save a reported $20 million of foreign exchange each year, says reports.
Murers, continued; “No money will go out of the country, it will rather be invested in various areas. We have opened an account at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) to make all transactions with insurers.”
For around two decades Zep Re has been working with a number of insurance entities in Ethiopia via its Nairobi, Kenya office, and it’s hoped that the launch of a regional branch will enable the company to grow its Ethiopian market share.
“As a part of our strategic plan, we are looking for new business opportunities in Ethiopia. We expect to utilise our physical presence to engage more in the area of investment,” continued Murers.
Alongside the launch of the new office Zep Re has announced that Tigist Shiferaw, a former underwriter at Zep Re Kenya, will be country manager of the new unit.
Tigist, added; “Our aim is to reinvest all of our profits in Ethiopia. Our aim is not only to earn benefits but also to benefit members under the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) countries.”
Zep Re’s deeper entry into the Ethiopian market via the establishment of a branch has also been hailed by some industry experts, given that historically the country applies heavy restrictions on the entry of foreign investors into its finance industry.
Yared Molla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nyala, said; “It will raise ZEP RE’s understandings about the risk pattern of the Ethiopian insurance industry. Now, we can easily walk to their office to get service.”