Why Prudential moved Africa hub from London to Nairobi


Nairobi City skyline. FILE PHOTO | NMG

British underwriter Prudential Plc has largely cited the availability of ready talent and government facilitation for its decision to make Nairobi the hub for its operations in Africa.

Nick Holder, Prudential chief operating officer for Africa, said Nairobi stood out among other locations, which were considered when the multinational decided to relocate its management office for Africa from London.

Besides Kenya, Prudential operates in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Cameroon.

Mr Holder said key factors, which informed the choice of Kenya’s capital included the “availability of really talented people locally and Kenyans have a reputation of being very well educated”.

“There are also tremendous links that are available from Nairobi to around Africa,” he said via video call.

“There’s also recognition on the side of the Kenyan government that this is an African regional office that would allow us to recruit a proportion of people from across the markets that we operate in.”

Prudential, which was founded in London in May 1848, came to Kenya after buying Shield Assurance in September 2014 with sights on East Africa, making it the second market in Africa after Ghana.

The firm, which largely focuses on life assurance and medical insurance, has recently refocused its growth strategy to double down on Africa’s and Asia’s operations, prompting the change in managerial structure.

The Nairobi regional hub office is providing support in finance, strategy, actuarial, government relations, product development as well as marketing and communications for Prudential’s operations in eight markets in the continent.

“Previously we have been managing the (African) business from London, and we thought that was too remote, it wasn’t close enough to the ground and it made it harder for us to recruit local African talent,” said Mr Holder.

Prudential became the first multinational to show concrete interest in joining the nascent Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) after submitting a letter of intent on July 27.

“NIFC offering is attractive to them (Prudential) as they do cross-border activities, given that they will benefit from some of the incentives we are offering, such as fast-tracking work permits for key executives,” NIFC acting chief executive Oscar Njuguna told that the Business Daily late July.