ZEP-RE Academy - Empowering Africa’s insurance sector through impactful training

ZEP-RE Academy

ZEP-RE Academy is premised on growing the region’s insurance and reinsurance industry.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The Academy strives to skill the industry for continued development of the region.
  • The Academy is premised on growing the region’s insurance and reinsurance industry.

Continental Reinsurance Solutions Provider, ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company), which was established 30 years ago, has strategically positioned itself, through its training arm ZEP-RE Academy to empower Africa’s insurance professionals with the relevant skills focusing on practical solutions that meet the continent’s needs.

Established in 2016, the academy prides itself as the first of its kind on the continent in the provision and delivery of practical training to the insurance and reinsurance industry personnel within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region and beyond.

ZEP-RE Academy recognises the need for continuous professional development as critical for the growth and development of a vibrant and responsive insurance sector and takes pride in its expertise in upskilling diverse teams from different insurance and reinsurance companies with on-the-job practical training.

The idea to set up the ZEP-RE Academy came about when ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) saw it fit to establish its own institution in Nairobi to provide training to all its markets in the COMESA region and beyond.

ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) has regional offices in eight member states and Ivory Coast. The Academy strives to skill the industry for continued development of the region, says Hope Murera, Managing Director and CEO at ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company.) The Academy is premised on growing the region’s insurance and reinsurance industry.

“Underwriting is complex, so is actuarial and risk management which requires expertise to execute. There is a very low understanding and appreciation of insurance products in most African markets, which, ultimately, has resulted in the low penetration of insurance products,” explains Ms Murera.

“There is thus, a need to grow the demand in such a dynamic socioeconomic environment with new products to mitigate against losses emanating from terrorism attacks, floods and persistent droughts which we have witnessed in recent years.”

Lessons learned

Running the Academy, in 2020, at the height of a pandemic came with numerous lessons for Ms Murera. Together with the management, she saw an opportunity to grow the Academy amid a pandemic by fully leveraging the virtual space.

"We went into innovation mode and fully embraced technology and pivoted to provide online training and we were so overwhelmed with a very high demand for training and people craving knowledge. The reach of countries was amazing and we brought some of the best international trainers. This diversity enriched our quality of training as it presented many resources to tap into without huge logistical issues,“ she says.

Going forward, The Academy will leverage virtual classes to triple the number of participants and reach.

“We also look forward to being a research centre by generating data for the industry,” she adds.

The training targets the industry, across the board, from regulators within our major markets to CEOs, board members in insurance firms, senior-level and middle-level managers, insurance technicians, as well as, young people who are launching a career in insurance.

“We tailor-make what is important for each of the levels to address any existing gaps in the industry, and we also look at other markets so that we can benchmark and incorporate into our trainings the emerging trends that we continue to observe,” adds Ms Murera.

Customized curriculum

Training at the ZEP-RE Academy is “targeted,” as it runs a curriculum that meets the needs of the industry by being relevant to each market.

Shipango Muteto, the Assistant Director, says ZEP-RE Academy seeks to grow into one of the leading training institutions in Africa and beyond. 

“We want to be a leading center of excellence that provides practical capacity building for skills to grow the insurance industry and its contribution to the national economies of the COMESA member states and beyond,” says Muteto.

“To achieve this, we continue to listen to the industry more to appreciate their training needs. We premise our training on practical case studies, showcasing the underwriting and claims gaps that we see in different markets so that the industry can know how best to bridge these gaps and improve the Insurance and Reinsurance underwriting standards and claims management.”

While running the Academy at the height of a pandemic, Muteto learnt that the Academy could achieve similar objectives using virtual training.

“Use of practical case studies, online group discussions to generate practical solutions and virtual breakout rooms can be impactful, if not more resourceful methods of delivering training,” he says.

Virtual trainings

In 2020, between January and March, ZEP-RE Academy conducted three workshops in different countries, attracting 100 participants. In response to the COVID pandemic, the Academy innovatively leveraged on technology to offer training through webinars. This quick response is evidenced in the first webinar held between April and May, attracting 296 participants.

This was a huge leap from the average of 33 and 30 participants trained in workshops conducted up to 2019 and between January and March 2020, respectively. The April 2020 webinar marked the beginning of a series of webinars on various insurance and reinsurance topics held in the year. The webinars attracted participants from 37 countries with the majority of participants attending from Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, The DRC, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Technology has made it possible for the Academy to accommodate large numbers of participants in one “classroom”. From April to December 2020, the Academy conducted 29 webinars, drawing 2,351 participants from 37 countries. This was a significant difference from 2019 whereby the Academy conducted 22 in-person training sessions, attracting 714 participants from nine countries. In 2021, the Academy has continued to excel having trained 1,986 participants through 29 webinars as at September 2021.

The training programmes offered by ZEP-RE Academy include the Academy’s flagship course: Proficiency in Short-Term Reinsurance Practice and Claims Management (PSTRP), life and medical insurance training, fire and engineering training, and enterprise and risk management (ERM) training.

The Academy has designed a scholarship award system to recognise the top-performing students in the PSTRP course. The award, a $1,000 sponsorship towards the recipient’s ongoing or future training in insurance/reinsurance, aims to nurture the pursuit of professional advancement, ultimately contributing positively to the COMESA region’s manpower development in the sector.

Academy’s vision bearers

The ZEP-RE Academy’s Advisory Board, a four-member team, was created to run the institution as a semiautonomous entity. The team, comprised ZEP-RE’s senior management, provides strategic oversight and guidance to the Academy.

Bernard Katambala - the current Chairman of the Advisory Board and is ZEP-RE’s Regional Director, Eastern Africa Hub and oversees the development and underwriting of both treaty and facultative business in the Company’s Eastern African markets. 

Jephita Gwatipedza - the Chief Operating Officer of ZEP-RE is a qualified reinsurance and marketing practitioner with over 27 years of experience in the reinsurance industry, and is responsible and accountable for the Company’s operations regarding underwriting, claims, business processes, retrocession and other related roles.

Nicholas Malombe - ZEP-RE’s Assistant Director, Life and Micro-Insurance, and oversees the life, health, and micro-insurance businesses across all markets. 

Joseph Nabimanya - ZEP-RE’s Human Resource & Administration Manager with over 20 years of experience in human resource practice and organizational development.

Shipango Muteto - the Assistant Director, ZEP-RE Academy and has worked in various technical and managerial capacities within the insurance and reinsurance industry in Zambia and Kenya. In addition to overseeing the Academy, he is one of the principal trainers at the Academy.

Christine Gitachu-Mungai - the Senior Key Account Manager of ZEP-RE Academy responsible for the day-to-day running of the Academy and coordinates and trains in various workshops and webinars conducted by ZEP-RE Academy.

Njeri Njiraini - ZEP-RE Academy Training Coordinator. She is instrumental in the seamless planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of all the Academy’s webinars and workshops. She is the primary point of contact for all training queries and requests and ensures timely communication with all participants and facilitators. 

Testimonials

“I joined ZEP-RE Academy to train and update my knowledge and skills. I have acquired substantial skills that will help me to excel in my day to day activities. I would strongly encourage everyone working in the insurance sector to join ZEP-RE Academy and benefit from various trainings that are tailor-made to close the gap of lack of skills required and to be more aware of changing trends and directions in the sector.” – Peter Ntegereze, the underwriting manager in charge of non-motor business at Prime Insurance in Rwanda.

“Training with the ZEP-RE Academy has enhanced my capacity to underwrite the more technical classes of insurance. The courses are  delivered in an easy-to-understand mode, expounding the difficult concepts with illustrative examples. I would encourage other insurance professionals to join the ZEP-RE Academy to better their skills” – Rachael Kiragu, a highly accomplished underwriter with Heritage Insurance Company Limited, Kenya.

“ZEP-RE Academy has been one of the best trainers I have had the privilege to associate with. I have had interactions with ZEP-RE in my work-space and they have been a reliable reinsurer to work with,” said January Fabian Rashid, after a PSTRP training in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“As an institution, the partnership with the Academy has improved our profile and product offering in the market, closing a gap in some of the areas where we have experienced shortages in terms of trainers and relevant programs thereby assisting ITC in delivering on its mandate,” said Jonan Kisakye, Deputy Principal, Insurance Training College, Uganda

The practical applications through case studies stand out for me at the training as they equipped me with the skills to navigate professional challenges. I can already see the value that this training has had in my work.” - Erick Kimutai Tarus, Claims Analyst with Mayfair Insurance Company Limited, Kenya.

For Training enquiries_ Email: [email protected]

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