ARMANDO MOTA

Angola 2022 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Armando Mota, CEO of Fidelidade Seguros, about the Angolan market, economic diversification, and goals for 2022.

In 2011, Grupo Fidelidade, which owns about 70% of Fidelidade Angola, entered the Angolan market by acquiring a majority position in Universal Seguros. What has the evolution of Fidelidade Seguros been during the last decade?

When I look back, I can say that we did a good job. We started from scratch, hiring people and providing them with knowledge and their first working experience. We started growing, making investments both in people and infrastructure, as well as IT. We started Fidelidade Seguros with a core team formed by national employees and two or three expats. At the end of the first year, we were up to 22 employees and kept growing to the current 650. We achieved the third position in the market, having profits by the third year. I believe we have helped the Angolan market to grow and develop. Same as in other countries where we are present, our first concern is our clients, our employees and their wellbeing. We grow around that, as we do in Portugal or other places where Fidelidade Seguros is present—the individual is the center of all our attention.

Fidelidade Angola offers a wide range of products and services for particular customers and enterprises (automobiles, life insurance, social responsibility). Could you give an overview of your portfolio?

We have a full portfolio for individuals and for the corporate side. When we started, it was easier to focus our attention on the corporate side because we have an experience that is more than 200 years old. We had the experience, knowledge, people, and a good brand to back us up. Four years ago, we decided to replicate the strategies that made Fidelidade Seguros one of the most renowned companies in the lusophone countries. Normally, we are the leaders on the corporate side, but we can also be leaders on the individual side. That is not yet a reality in Angola. Even on the corporate side, where we do not have an accurate information from the market. Still, we feel that we have a major share. Excluding public companies, we have more than 50% of the market share. But overall, with the figures you get from the regulators, we control about 15% of total market share. On the individual side, we are not yet the leaders, but I am proud to say that our team is achieving its goals. In July 2021, we sold about 10,000 policies to individuals alone, all over the country. Our breakdown on the sector is that families' first concern is not insurance but food or electricity, and still in this difficult environment we are able to achieve these kinds of goals as a result of the effort of our employees, partners, brokers, and banks. After 10 years, we can say that our brand brings value to people. People in Angola recognize the Fidelidade Seguros brand as a serious company that will work for them, with them and will be fair. The value of our brand is as important as our earnings, and we are satisfied up until now. Our idea is to do better every day. That is the spirit of Fidelidade Seguros.

With 29.1 billion Kwanzas in insurance and reinsurance policies in 2021, How do you foresee the evolution of the economic results in 2022, once the COVID-19 situation will be mostly overcome?

We grew about 30%, increasing our profit about 126% and raising the number of clients. For a tough year, it was not so bad. The harshness of the market presents many challenges, but we keep developing business. For many years, we did not have access to foreign currency. Our currency, the Kwanza, lost its value in Angola and abroad.Which meant we were selling more in our currency yet losing billions according to foreign currency. Our debt in the US dollar was stable and growing but our debt here was growing each year. Shareholders and employees supported the company when we did not have access to foreign currency, as other insurers did. We showed everyone, even our shareholders, that we were strong enough to survive in an environment that was very hard. The aggressive devaluation of the Kwanza was a tremendous setback for our company. Nevertheless, Fidelidade Seguros is not to give up, but to help companies and Angolans to grow and have a better life. We have no intention on leaving our country. We will be here to see what is going to happen in the next 15, 20, or 100 years.

How can Fideldade Seguros help support diversification of the economy and increase the penetration rate in the insurance market?

Our penetration rate shows what kind of country we are. People have to achieve a certain level of comfort in their life to start thinking of buying insurance policies. The main concern of Angolans is to put food on their table. The second concern of Angolan families is to have health. Once the society has achieved its primary objectives, we can focus in bringing insurance policies for everyone, but first we need to create jobs, invest in agriculture, and industrialize the country, while opening our borders to attract tourism. Angola has all the conditions to be one of the leading countries on the continent. We need the government to create the right environment for business and development.

What are your main goals for 2022?

The main challenge we face is regulation on insurance. There is a lot of mandatory insurance in Angola that is not being controlled by the authorities. Only 20% of automobiles are insured, making it very expensive to insure people. We need a bill to increase the control and make sure that mandatory insurance is paid for by the population. That will mean that insurance companies will grow, creating better health and creating jobs, as well as investment. This is a normal situation in other countries. Most of the people do not understand that the money we collect from clients is, in the end, our clients' money, since we are going to give it back in the future. Our economy is mainly depending on oil and diamonds. If we diversify our economy, or in other words, open our borders to people, knowledge, and investment, the economy will grow. In the 1970s, Angola was exporting milk, coffee, cotton, corn, sugar, meat, and many other products. We should give that opportunity to Angolans, and once society is sustainably growing, the insurance sector and Fidelidade Seguros will grow alongside the nation.