(Bloomberg) -- Prudential Plc plans to join Kenya’s financial center that formally begins operations in a couple of weeks.
The Nairobi International Financial Center received a letter of intent from Prudential, and will host the British insurer as the anchor client, the hub’s acting Chief Executive Officer Oscar Njuguna said in an interview.
“There are a couple of other global banks that we have began conversations with,” Njuguna said. “We’re definitely talking to a number of institutions about not just setting up in the NIFC but also doing business through the NIFC,” he said without giving further details.
The center is part of Kenya’s longstanding plans to develop a financial hub to compete with regional intermediaries in Dubai, Johannesburg and Casablanca. Nairobi is already East Africa’s economic and financial powerhouse, with regional offices for the United Nations and companies including Google parent Alphabet Inc. It offers transport connectivity and modern social amenities.
The application to be a member of the NIFC “demonstrates our long-term commitment to Africa, and our interest to collaborate with the government in building a robust financial services industry on the continent,” Wilf Blackburn, Prudential Corp. Asia regional chief executive, insurance growth markets, said by email.
Prudential recently concluded moving its Africa hub to Nairobi from London in a bid to have a team closer to clients in the region. Since investing in Ghana in 2014, Prudential now has 1.2 million customers in eight African nations, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Togo. Sales grew 51% to $112 million in 2020.
“Our investment in Africa gives us exposure to a growing, under-served continent whose population is expected to double to more than 2 billion people by 2050,” Blackburn said. “We see rising demand from customers for solutions that can help them protect their wealth; save for their children’s education; and gain access to affordable and quality healthcare.”
Developing the Kenyan financial hub is among the topics on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda during his visit to the U.K. this week. The NIFC is scheduled to sign an agreement with the city of London, according to information from Kenyatta’s office.
(Updates with comments from Prudential throughout)
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