KAMPALA : South African high commissioner Lekoa Solly Mollo has urged Ugandan companies to exploit trade opportunities in his country in order to boost bilateral relations. Mollo says the high commission is keen to help Ugandan firms understand the South African market.
“In November, the high commission will take Ugandan companies on a business trip to South Africa. We will facilitate the trip, and this is aimed at promoting bilateral trade. The traders will be able to meet the South African business community where they can make contacts and see how business can be done between the two countries,” he said recently.
Mollo was speaking during the re-branding ceremony of NIKO general insurance to Sanlam General Insurance at Sheraton hotel in Kampala. Sanlam is a South African company; other South African investments include telecommunications (MTN Uganda), breweries (SAB Millers), finance (Stanbic bank).
“A solid framework for cooperation exists between the two countries and the history of South Africa cannot be complete without mentioning Uganda. As an embassy, we have established an economic desk that is always operational,” he said.
South Africa’s exports to Uganda include machinery, vehicles, plastics, chemicals, electronics, spare parts and accessories, books and newsprint, textiles, footwear, fruits, aircraft and household goods.
At the ceremony, Gary Corbit, the chief executive of Sanlam General Insurance, said the rebranding will give clients the added comfort and security of doing business with a company that is well known in many African markets as a leader in general insurance, wealth creation, management and protection.
“Sanlam is a respected financial services group with a footprint in 12 African countries outside of South Africa, as well as in India, Malaysia,the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia. We look forward to using this opportunity to strengthen our business relationship with our clients, partners and associates and to further entrench the Sanlam way of doing business to a wider range of clients,” he said.
Sanlam holds an 84 per cent stake in NIKO Insurance (79 per cent direct and five per cent indirect via NICO Holdings) through its subsidiary, Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM).
Other players such as Old Mutual and Prudential have signed deals to enter into Uganda’s insurance industry. Old Mutual increased its stake in UAP, while Prudential signed a deal with Goldstar Insurance. Ian Kirk, the group chief executive of Sanlam, said Uganda is an attractive market as it is a key player in the East Africa region.
“More importantly, Sanlam will contribute to the local financial services industry in the country by providing access to products and services. With our 97- year history, we believe that we have the expertise and experience to create sustainable value for the Ugandan people.”
“Our geographical diversification strategy focuses on investing in smaller, bolt-on deals and partnerships with established businesses in emerging markets, as well as one of our most valuable assets, our brand,” Kirk said.
The penetration of insurance products in Uganda remains low. Uganda’s penetration level is at less than one per cent, compared to other regional peers such as Kenya and Rwanda, which are higher. Some of the challenges include low awareness of the products and the price.
The Insurance Regulatory Authority is trying to get to the low end of the market by asking its members to design cheaper products that might capture this group.