DRC – Mayfair Insurance Company has received a licence to operate the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), becoming the latest Kenyan financier to expand in the country.

DRC’s insurance regulator said it had granted approval to the insurance company to operate in the non-life business market.

“This brings the number of insurance operators on the DRC market to 15, including eight insurance companies,” the local regulatory authority said in the press release posted on its Twitter account.

DRC becomes the fifth country as it already operates in Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

According to Business Daily, DRC opened up its market to private insurers in 2019, and now has eight insurance companies and seven brokerages, the regulator said.

Mayfair Insurance’s net profit rose by more than a third to KSh362 million (US$3.62m) in the year to December 2018 on the back of increased income from regional businesses, the insurer said earlier.

The insurer becomes the latest Kenya firm to target one of the biggest countries on the continent by land mass. DRC is sub-Saharan Africa’s third most populous country.

This follows Equity Bank, which has more than 14 million customers, and KCB Group’s entry into the market. KCB announced last year it plans to buy a bank in the DRC as it looks to grow its regional footprint.

Listed insurer Jubilee Holdings said earlier it was awaiting grant of a licence to operate in the DRC after striking a partnership with State-owned insurance company, the National Insurance Corporation (Sonas), to operate there.

Up to 96 percent of the citizens are unbanked in the vast and resource-rich DRC with a population of more than 85 million people. This makes it appealing to ambitious financiers looking for growth on the continent.

The DRC market is mainly focused on serving big companies with operations there, making it necessary to have a big balance sheet to be able to compete and grow, said analyst and Business Daily columnist George Bodo.

Despite the huge trade potential, the DRC remains a volatile nation, fraught with internal strife and persistent outbreaks of deadly diseases such as Ebola, which has killed more than 1,200 people since 2018.