The complex geopolitical situation does present high risks in the region. But interestingly, those operating here work with a salutary ‘business as usual’ motif, minimising the impact of these tensions.
Those active regionally in MENA have two choices this year for the networking gambit of keeping in touch with old friends and seeking new business contacts and opportunities.
May is the month for AIO’s annual conference, this time in Accra, Ghana, with the theme aptly capturing innovation, risks and the future, which itself is at risk the world over. Then in June there is the much-awaited GAIF Conference in Hammamet, Tunisia, with digital transformation as the star attraction.
In the global insurance front, Africa is where the current gold rush is happening with the sheer logic of low penetration rate, huge population base, growing infrastructure investments and diversified economies, coming together to offer immense opportunities for the continent’s insurance industry to grow and prosper. Read our Spotlight on Africa aimed at the AIO event. We take a step further to give you an update on how far the African markets have embraced takaful, with Sudan being the pioneer prime mover in the days of yore. Yet the progress in the other markets have been anecdotal though on-going.
Our cover story this month is on consolidation in the insurance industry with ironically, a minimal deal report despite the compelling logic for M&A. In the first quarter this year, insurance did emerge as one of the top sectors in M&A deals in the region. The word is that unless two things happen the pace will be slow: family-owned companies must have a change in mindset and regulators must push for stricter compliance.
On the positives, life is getting hotter. LIMRA was in town to look at the changing regulations on distribution in the Middle East with a brief hopefully to give insurers a better suite of services to push life actively.
Our country profile on Lebanon shows that life is outpacing economic growth and confident of strong performance for 2018. We salute the tenacity of the Lebanese market that, despite the challenges and the saturation in domestic market, is still seeing some growth.
My pick of the month is how the insurance sector is responding to the needs of the SMEs which form the very backbone of any economy. SMEs need help to understand risks and are always under-insured. Can insurers do something to help them manage the risks involved?
On takaful, it looks like technology with AI, analytics and blockchain is what is going to make the differentiating factor for takaful operators. This was a key message at the World Takaful Conference last month.
And the more technology is embraced, the stricter the need for data protection and tighter privacy laws.
It is May and I take joy in spreading the merriment of May and reminding the high-flyers in the region to take part in our 5th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards by submitting your entries in areas you feel you are ahead of the market and actually making a difference. We need leaders in the market to stand up!
Middle East Insurance Review