By Emmanuel N. Mugarura
On July 4, 1994 the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), took power
in Kigali - inheriting nothing but a dead economy. One of
the worst affected sectors was the insurance industry, virtually
destroyed by the war, bureaucracy in government and general
|Managing Director of the National Insurance
Corporation of Rwanda, Ms Marie Claire Mukasine
Many claims remained unpaid because of the corruption and
many companies simply gave up taking on insurance policies.
After all, there was really nothing to gain after paying their
That was 10 years ago. Today, with the Rwandan economy almost
back on the rails, the insurance industry is recovering too
as new businesses and investments come up.
“Finally people realise that the insurance companies
are not simply ripping them off but are a valuable service,”
Ms Marie Claire Mukasine told The Weekly Observer in an interview.
Mukasine is the managing director of National Insurance
Corporation of Rwanda – more commonly known as SONARWA.
She is also the chairperson of the country’s national
Like any other economy, Rwanda needs to insure automobiles,
factories, business premises and goods coming in or leaving
the country. With growing opportunities, insurance companies
are finally giving value for money.
“The process of reimbursements is now quicker and simpler
and people are going for insurance,” Mukasine said.
Investor confidence is for once high because they know that
their property and businesses are secure when the insurance
industry is strong.
Apart from SONARWA in which the government has a 10 percent
stake, there are three private sector insurance firms. “We
diversified the sector because we wanted people to have a
choice and better services,” Mukasine said.
SONARWA is not only making money for itself, but it has also
set new standards in corporate responsibility by giving back
to the communities and the country as a whole.
The company now runs two housing estates in the Kigali suburbs
of Nyarutarama and Nyamirambo. SONARWA also owns a building
in Kicukiro, occupied by World Food Programme. The four companies
in the industry employ 400 people and have 1,000 agents across
SONARWA has other business as well. “We hold shares
in several companies. They have been growing and we have also
been growing,” Mukasine said. SONARWA also invests in
central bank bonds.
Mukasine said the industry is making profits, even if it
does not always exceed projected targets. The main role of
insurance companies is to compensate clients to enable them
do their business well, she said.
However, the accident ratio in Rwanda is high and this imposes
a heavy burden on insurance firms. As a result, the premium
can sometimes be quite high, which scares away some potential
Mukasine said that a developing economy like Rwanda needs
more obligatory insurance, especially for fire and accidents.
Meanwhile the government plans to sell its shares in SONARWANA
under the ongoing privatisation process.