Unlocking the Wealth of Africa: Understanding African Financial Services

By Ndangi Katoma |

The financial services sector is an important component of any economy, offering a variety of products and services to meet the financial needs of individuals and businesses.

Over the last few decades, Africa’s financial services sector has grown rapidly, fuelled by increased investments in infrastructure and technology, as well as rising incomes and a growing middle class.

In this article, we will look at some of the key trends and challenges confronting Africa’s financial services sector, with a particular emphasis on life and funeral insurance.

The Rise of Life and Funeral Insurance in Africa

Life and funeral insurance are becoming an increasingly important part of Africa’s financial services sector.

This is due in part to the fact that mortality rates in Africa are higher than in many other parts of the world, implying a greater need for life and funeral insurance products.

Furthermore, as incomes in many African countries have risen, more people are seeking ways to protect themselves and their families from financial shock such as the death of a breadwinner.

Low insurance penetration is one of the major challenges confronting Africa’s life and funeral insurance industry.

The World Bank estimates that insurance penetration in Africa is around 3.5%, compared to a global average of 6.3%. This means that there is a significant untapped market for insurance products in Africa, which presents an opportunity for insurers to expand their businesses and reach new customers.

Another issue confronting Africa’s life and funeral insurance industry is a lack of trust in insurance companies. Many Africans are sceptical of insurance products, either because of previous bad experiences or because they do not fully understand how insurance works.

As a result, insurance companies must invest in education and public awareness campaigns to help people understand the benefits of insurance and how it can help them protect their families and businesses.

Innovations in Technology

The use of technology has been a key driver of growth in Africa’s financial services sector. The use of mobile phones and other digital devices in Africa has increased significantly in recent years, making it easier for people to access financial services. Mobile money, for example, has grown in popularity as a means of sending and receiving money, paying bills, and accessing other financial services.

Furthermore, technological advancements have enabled insurance companies to create new products and services that are tailored to the needs of African customers. Some insurers, for example, are now offering microinsurance products designed to provide low-income individuals and families with affordable coverage.

These products are typically sold through mobile phones, making it easier for people to access insurance products and services.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the African financial services sector has grown significantly in recent years, there are still a few challenges that must be addressed to ensure that the sector continues to grow and thrive.

One of the major challenges in many African countries is a lack of infrastructure, which makes it difficult for people to access financial services. This is especially true in rural areas, where access to banks and other financial institutions may be limited. Another issue confronting Africa’s financial services sector is a lack of regulation.

Many African countries have lax regulatory frameworks, making it difficult for financial institutions to operate effectively and protect their customers’ interests.

This can lead to problems such as fraud and corruption, which can undermine the credibility of the financial services sector and make it more difficult for customers to trust financial institutions.

Despite these challenges, the African financial services sector has several opportunities. As incomes continue to rise and more people enter the middle class, demand for financial products and services will rise.

– Ndangi Katoma is Retail Mass Foundation Managing Director at Old Mutual Namibia