BY KEVIN GIKONYO Mr Bill Gates envisioned in 1999 that technology would revolutionize the world by getting services and information closer to the end user. The 15-point article depicting these technological evolutions is so precise today that some writers allude to it as a prophecy in its own paradigm. Gates denotes that “People will carry around small devices that will allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”-Business @the speed of thought “by Bill Gates 1999. He is simply a very intelligent man living in our time and as much is acclaimed of his material riches, he equally commands a rich intellect ahead of his time, what fiction lovers would call “living in a twilight zone” (An unconventional dimension of sound, sight and mind; An imaginable land of both shadow, substance, of things and ideas – Urban Dictionary). Majority of today’s innovations sprout from the tech-world and Africa is no exception. Young, energetic Africans are determined to jolt the status quo with their ingenious ideas as they seek to engrave their mark on the coveted canvass of celebrated innovators worldwide. Like the adage goes, necessity is the mother of all inventions; Africa is turning to home grown solutions to combat lifelong challenges in the wake of growing economies and ballooning entrepreneurial spirit. The need to succeed at home by circumventing these challenges through innovations is testament to the bolstered number of start-ups in the continent. This article must not be construed to undermine the invaluable contributions of the renowned innovators of our time like Gates, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg or formers, the likes of Einstein and Newton, but suffice to say that Africa is rising in the world of innovation and Kenya in particular, is a space to watch! Kenya has seen many of its young minds win accolades in internationally acclaimed tech-company sponsored innovation competitions against the very best in the world. Most of the market players in various industries are facing cutthroat competition due to increased product or service indifference as a result of globalisation and concept duplication. The Insurance industry in Kenya continues to search for lasting solutions to similar challenges. The place for technology cannot be disregarded with apparent sidelining of the beckoning demands of the evolved customer in the 21st Century. Statistically, Africa is the 5th most insured region in the world at a penetration rate of approxately 3.6%. Kenya is approximately 3.3% making it 5th in Africa and 1st in Eastern Africa with Uganda and Algeria, according to Swiss Re, NKC Research lagging behind the continent at a dismal 0.66% and 0.60% respectively. The un- insured populace is definitely huge, thus creating the necessity to bridge this gap in the industry through innovation. For the first time in Kenya and in Africa, a very promising solution to insurance inclusion is set to be unveiled this month. Kenyans will be treated to the luxury of accessing & dealing all insurance matters at their convenience on both the mobile and web platforms. Your guess is as good as mine; the consequential benefits are remarkable to consumers, intermediaries and insurers. This will range from product convenience, reduced marketing and advertisement cost and operational efficiency, just to mention a few. Nsure Africa Limited, an IT solutions company based in Nairobi has developed a digital tool that effectively automates insurance business. Built with the industry players in mind, the NSURE © app basically plots the current end to end insurance operations on a digital platform in a non-disruptive way that is bound to be a game changer in how insurance business is conducted in 2016 and beyond. Nsure Africa Ltd which is 100% Kenyan owned has partnered with Lloyds Africa Markets to make this app a reality to many potential policy seekers and users in Kenya and Africa thereby increasing insurance penetration “We have full confidence in the imminent success of the app leveraging on extensive research that we conducted before crafting the final product” said Ken Mugo, the Innovations director at Nsure Africa Limited. During the interview, he drew bold parallels with the Kenyan telecommunication industry, that as M-pesa is to banks, so is Nsure © app to insurance companies, with assurances that the app has room for all the industry players making it a win-win for all. Internationally the insurance apps that exist are Liberty Mutual Home Gallery App and GEICO, with the later winning an international award as the best insurance app in 2015 according to Keynotes 2015 mobile insurance score card. Nsure© app reality is on course, as Nsure Africa has managed to sign up agreements with most of the major insurance companies and other key stakeholders. The official launch and practical demo of the product to the public is set to take place at the 2nd Annual Bancassurance and Alternative Distribution Conference organised by Lloyds Africa Markets in March, 2016. The app is currently customised for the Kenyan industry, with plans to soon replicate the same in the regional and global markets.
Writer is head of research-Lloyds Africa Markets.