Africa – accelerating financial inclusion

With a fast-growing economy and a relatively young, tech-savvy population, Africa is a dynamic and diverse market that presents exciting opportunities for both international and local private enterprises. Over the last couple of decades, the region has become home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies[1], which makes it an attractive destination for investment.

For Prudential, Africa presents tremendous opportunities, given its economic growth potential and the rising affluence and aspirations of its people.

Africa’s population is projected to double to more than two billion by 2050[1]. Its middle class is set to grow even faster – from 120 million to nearly one billion[2]. By then, Africa will be characterised by a youthful, working age population living predominantly in cities (55 percent of the population will be urban based), with the main consumer segment of digitally active millennials reaching their peak earning years.

As the people of Africa become more affluent, there will be increasing demand for solutions that can help them protect their health and grow their wealth. Today, Africa’s insurance penetration rate, at 2.7 percent[3], is among the lowest in the world and its out-of-pocket heath spending ratio is the world’s highest (over a third compared to a quarter in Asia[4]).

There is a huge opportunity for Prudential to accelerate financial inclusion in Africa, and help its people get the most out of life by making insurance and healthcare more accessible.

Prudential Africa’s rise to prominence

Africa is not new to Prudential. In fact, we have come a long way in Africa since eight years ago when we made an investment in the continent with the acquisition of Express Life Ghana in 2014. Today, we are operating in eight attractive and culturally diverse markets – Ghana (since 2014), Kenya (since 2014), Uganda (since 2015), Zambia (since 2016), Nigeria (since 2017), Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo (all three since 2019).

In the last six years, we have built a 1.2 million-strong customer base across the continent, developed a large and ever-growing agency force (now comprising over 11,000 agents) and established a bancassurance network of over 600 branches. We have also put in place the digital building blocks to position our business for the future, for example by introducing our AI-powered health and wellness app Pulse to six of our markets, with plans to make it available in all eight by the end of the year.

Not only have we scaled up our business in Africa, we have also significantly deepened our presence wherever we operate. For example, we have boosted our rankings in several of our markets (such as from last to second in Uganda and 13th to fourth in Ghana), developed an entire business from scratch (such as our partnership with Zenith Bank in Nigeria), and clinched top industry accolades (such as being recognised by the regulator as the most innovative life insurer in Uganda in 2020).

In addition to running a successful business, we’re proud to be actively contributing to our local communities, by rolling out Prudence Foundation’s award-winning financial literacy initiative Cha-Ching, its SAFE STEPS Road Safety programme, and our Group-wide Covid-19 relief fund to all markets in Africa.

It is an exciting time to be growing in this part of the world, where we can be a part of – and give back – to this rapidly growing continent.

[1] IMF
[2] United Nations
[3] African Development Bank
[4] Deloitte
[5] BCG analysis

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