CEO Reflection: 3 Year Anniversary


By Mikir Shah, CEO at Africa Specialty Risks

This is a very exciting time for everyone associated with ASR, the launch of Syndicate 2454, at Lloyd’s, the first Africa focused syndicate at the oldest insurance market in the world. A lot of hard work has gone into making this a reality, across our entire team at ASR, our Managing Agent, Apollo and at Lloyd’s, and I want to thank everyone involved.

We have always believed there is an opportunity for insurers across Africa, to underwrite good quality, profitable business, which has the benefit of boosting investment into Africa as well as diversifying risk for insurers.

Our goal is to become the go to syndicate for writing business in Africa, and we are already being approached by other syndicates who would like to join the consortia behind us. When we started underwriting just over three years ago our core mission was to build capacity in Africa, and we are looking forward to working with international and local (re)insurers to make that happen.

We now have seven binder agreements, enabling investment from across the globe, to flow into Africa, in conjunction with our reinsurer, making ASR fully aligned with our partners.

And why do we think we can achieve this? Our people. Now over 100 employees, our combined knowledge of the insurance market in Africa is unparalleled. While many see the continent as one homogeneous land mass, it is far larger and more diverse than people realise. To put things into perspective: the USA, China, India all fit comfortably into the Continent. At ASR, we see 54 countries, all with individual characteristics, challenges, and opportunities. We actively engage with local insurers, brokers, and Governments to understand the needs on the ground. And now we are expanding our footprint. Our hub in Mauritius has doubled in size since its opening, and we now have an office in Casablanca, with plans to open further outposts in South Africa and Dubai.

Our energy team are involved in (re)insuring every single geothermal plant in East Africa. We cover 2.25 million smallholder farmers, and in total have been part of de-risking $23bn of projects in Africa and the Middle East. In short, we are making a difference, leading a large proportion of the risk we cover and leading innovation as well.

In the past year we have launched our captive solutions capability and will be looking to go live with automated quote portals later in 2024. Beyond new products, we continue to innovate in everything we do, whether that be the way we build our pricing models, or how we assess certain risks. We do this by marrying together best in class, international underwriting skill sets with a deep understanding of Africa.

We have come a long way in three short years, and Syndicate 2454 is testament to that. When I travel and attend conferences, people know who ASR are and look to us for our expertise, whether that be the insured, other insurers, or brokers. And over the next three years, our aim is to continue on this trajectory, providing the innovative risk mitigation products that we believe can make a difference to investment and economic development in Africa and further afield.