Published on 25 Oct 2021

Sanlam and MTN enter strategic alliance to sell insurance

The deal is expected to give the unbanked access to insurance services.

By Johan Burger

Until recently mobile financial access was limited to basic retail banking products. A new strategic alliance between the mobile giant MTN and financial services provider Sanlam will allow the distribution of insurance and investment products across the continent.

Insurance penetration is no more than 5% on average across Africa. In Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) insurance is almost unknown. Even in a relatively well-developed financial market such as Kenya only 2.83% of the population is covered by insurance. South Africa and Namibia are the only two SSA country that have a insurance penetration rate of over 5%. Such low penetration rates create a huge opportunity for Sanlam as well. Insurance penetration rate is defined as a country's total insurance premiums as a percentage of its GDP. South Africa has an insurance penetration of 13.7% (2020 statistic), which is second globally only to Taiwan at 17.4%.

The Sanlam group has grown into the largest non-banking financial services group in Africa with a footprint in 33 countries on the continent.

Given the brand popularity of MTN and Sanlam’s insurance expertise, the alliance has the potential to reach Africa’s unbanked through digital channels.

MTN has already announced plans to spin off its fintech business and list it separately. It currently has an insurtech business with 6.3m active policyholders and hopes to have 30 million policyholders by 2025. The group has a fintech business with over 100m clients in 19 countries using mobile money services, of which approximately 50% are active every month. It also boasts of an army of 800,000 registered agents and 650,000 merchants.


Additional readings:

Gilbert, P. 2021. Sanlam and MTN team up to offer digital insurance and investments. Connecting Africa. 13 August 2021. Available at  Accessed 22 October 2021.

Statista Research Department. 2021. Life and non-life insurance penetration in selected countries worldwide in 2020. Statista. 16 July 2021. Available at  Accessed 22 October 2021.


Subscribe to Newsletter