Sonarwa s.a. Blazes a trail in Rwandan insurance industry

……as it aims for regional expansion As Rwanda marks a first term of wholesome attainments courtesy of the wise leadership of President Paul Kagame,so has SONARWA, which unwaveringly remains the market leader both in terms of revenue and assets base.
Sonarwa’s current investment portfolio ensures that business activities remain solid. (Photo by T. Kisambira)
Sonarwa’s current investment portfolio ensures that business activities remain solid. (Photo by T. Kisambira)

……as it aims for regional expansion

As Rwanda marks a first term of wholesome attainments courtesy of the wise leadership of President Paul Kagame,so has SONARWA, which unwaveringly remains the market leader both in terms of revenue and assets base.

According to the CEO of the insurer, Olusegun Durojaiye, in2009,the company’s revenues, shareholders funds and total assets stood at Rwf 8.9billoin,Rwf 6.8 billion and Rwf respectively.

The CEO discloses that his company was the first insurer to attract foreign direct investments with the sale of its 35% shareholding to Industrial and General Insurance PLC of Nigeria.

Certainly, the company is laden with many firsts.”It was also the first to comply with the capitalization requirement of the insurance Act of 2009,and raised its authorised share capital from Rwf 1.5 billion to Rwf 2.2 billion by November 2009”,Olusegun says.

He notes that his firm has made foray into real estate and tourism sectors by completing the Nobilis Apartments worth Rwf 750 millon and achieving 80% completion of Nobilis Hotel. The latter,which is set for completion in November 2010,is estimated to cost Rwf 5 billion.

The CEO discloses that his company with a nation wide network of 24 branches has solid reinsurance backing which enables it to pay huge claims seamlessly. For instance the Rwf 507 million claim paid to Rwanda Investment Group {RIG} and Rwf 4.5 billion total claims paid in 2009.

As another feather in the cap SONARWA is also a government investment partner with holdings in Free trade Zones,Rwanda Development Bank{BRD} and RIG with investments worth Rwf 872 million,Rwf 229 million and 660 million respectively.

Standing out.
Olusegun emphatically sates that his is a forward looking firm.”We have increased our paid up capital from 500 to Rwf 2.2 billion, improved the IT system and built the capacity of our staff. We have continually improved products and services, which ia an opportunity to operate optimally and increase output while also looking at competition beyond boarders.”

New aspects
According o the CEO, the company is renowned for its service orientation. It has excelled in settling claims unlike the competition. In 2009,the company settled claims worth Rwf 4.5 billoin. SONARWA honors contract obligations while timely reforms are incorporated when need be. He comments that unlike SINARWA, many in the competition do not execute customs bonds; a key requirement when importing goods into Rwanda.

To lay its foothold in the agricultural sector, SONARWA engaged in a pilot scheme  fro agriculture insurance in 2008 in collaboration with MINAGRI and MINIFRA where cover was provided against the effect of bad weather. Though the scheme was successful, SONARWA could not go ahead and provide cover across the country as planned because  weather measuring equipments necessary to determine genuine claims were yet to be installed nationwide.

SONARWA will instead launch a live stock insurance policy to be unveiled during the company’s 35th anniversary celebrations in September this year says the CEO.
“Agriculture is the main stay of the economy. If we do not help farmers, we would not be contributing to the economy,” he adds.

The company has endeavored to encourage Rwandans to insure. While this should involve the whole industry, Mr Olusegun says that the best way to create awareness is to participate in activities, publicity and general campaigns.

He points out at his firm’s contribution to this year’s FESPAD festival that was held in Rwanda in which the company provided to free insurance to 400 participants. He also mentions their sponsorship of the just concluded finals of volleyball competition at Amahoro stadium.

‘All these are supposed to create awareness of insurance among Rwandans” he says. He points out that some of the challenges his firm ebcounters arise from capacity building since most of the staff members are trained in general management.

He adds the company is determined to provide specialized training to staff to churn out chartered Accountants and Insurers in order to achieve optimal performance. On the high cost of insurance, he urges government to emulate other East African states by removing VAT on insurance to encourage the industry to flourish.

Future Plans

SONARWA, already a composite company, intends to launch full range of products by adding health and agricultural insurance policies to its portfolio besides the introduction of online transactions to conduct business with clients.

Also as part of the expansion drive, the company which is already doing business in Congo and Burundi, will expand its operations to Kampala and Nairobi to take advantage of the East African economic integration..

Lastly in September this year the company will mark its 35th anniversary. During the celebrations, the insurer will launch the health and agriculture policies and recognize loyal staff and customers.

Ends

 

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