Afre eyes regional markets


Afre Corporation Limited is set to expand its operations into regional markets by 2012 to increase the group’s market share.

The group last year entered the Botswana market and is anticipating considerable growth in that country.

Speaking at the company’s financial results briefing in Harare on Tuesday, group chief operating officer Sibusisiwe Ndhlovu said the firm has set its eyes on Lesotho, Angola, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique in its expansion drive next year.

“We feel strongly that we can penetrate the East African market though our experience in Botswana has shown that there is a lot of work to be done,” said Ndhlovu.

“In terms of funding it depends on the opportunities that we will see. We will see if internal resources will be adequate or we’ll source from partners,” said Ndhlovu.

She said the group’ s subsidiaries, First Mutual Reinsurance, First Mutual Life Medical Savings Funds and the group’s short-term subsidiary Tristar Insurance claims and commissions amounted to $28,6 million for the year ended December 31 2010.

On the other hand the group incurred policyholder liabilities of $8,3 million during the period under review.

“In 2010 we had more reports of accidents which may be due to the use of the United States dollar. The whole market suffered due to that. Growth in claims like medical funds were expensive as people visited the doctors for any ailment,” said Ndhlovu.

“We will try to manage short-term and medical fund claims this year,” she added.

She said the underwriting costs in the country had been compromised but the group would be investing more in trying to manage claims this year.

Zimbabwe’s motor vehicle premiums are currently at 3% compared to the region’s 8% resulting in insurance companies carrying a heavy burden on their shoulders.

Gross premiums written for the year amounted to $59,9 million from $24,6 million while total income for the group rose to $68,6 million from $35,1 million in 2009.

First Mutual Life Medical Savings Fund contributed $19,4 million to gross premiums while employee benefit gross premiums were $13,5 million, reinsurance $12,4 million and individual business gross premiums were $4 million.

The group had a total income of $28,2 million, and an operating profit of $5,6 million for its trading update to March 2011.

Total assets for the group grew by 5% to $144 million from $136 million in 2009.