Absa, Barclays invest in Zambia
ABSA and its UK-based parent Barclays last night launched a greenfield life insurance business in copper mining country Zambia as part of an African growth strategy.
Barclays Life would provide such products as credit-life protection on loans, value-added features such as a hospital cash plan and funeral cover on deposit accounts, and a stand-alone family protection plan.
The launch is due to a renewed thrust by Absa to partner with Barclays in undertaking a more aggressive expansion into sub-Saharan Africa.
Absa already has two insurance businesses in Botswana and Mozambique, and its investment in Zambia will provide another revenue stream for the group, which last week reported a 6% decline in earnings to R4.3bn in the six months to June.
Rival First National Bank already has a retail unit in Zambia, where its earlier plans to become one of the top five banks was scuttled by the government-ordered cancellation of its planned purchase of the Finance Bank of Zambia.
Absa group CEO Maria Ramos said yesterday the launch of Barclays Life Zambia demonstrated how Absa and Barclays had integrated knowledge, experience and technical capabilities to benefit clients in Zambia.
"This follows similar, recent successful African ventures which have taken place in Botswana where Absa launched a life insurance operation in March 2011, and acquired 100% of the share capital of Global Alliance Seguros, a leading insurance business in Mozambique in September 2011," Ms Ramos said.
The new life business would expand on the customer service that Barclays Zambia clients have become accustomed to. "We will build on our experiences in the market as well as the comments that we have received from our clients.
"Barclays Life Insurance will remain at the front end of service delivery and push the frontiers of technology to make insurance and banking services more accessible.
"The Zambian regulatory environment and soundness of the country's economic profile, with increasing levels of economic activity lends to a requirement for increased services to protect the customer. For example credit-life solutions offer our customers protection against the burdens of settling debt arising from credit extensions relating to personal loans and mortgages in the event of death and disability," she said.
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