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Global Risk Spotlight Series: DWF & Project Africa

05 February 2024
In the latest instalment of the ‘Spotlight on Global Risk’ series, Bill Evans sat down with Romain Dupeyre, Head of Insurance in our Paris office to discuss all things insurance in Africa.
Bill discovered that DWF has a thriving 'Africa Desk' working across `both North and Sub-Saharan Africa on some of the insurance industry's largest claims and disputes. More than that, DWF has expansive 'on the ground' expertise and a long established strategic association with full service South African law firm, Thomson Wilks.
Romain Dupeyre, you have worked across the African continent for many years for both insurers and private companies?

Yes, I have a special expertise and interest in claims in Africa across insurance product lines such as property, energy, construction, financial and political risk. I have been instructed by some of the largest insurers in the world as well as private companies in jurisdictions such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as well as other French speaking African jurisdictions like Mali and Senegal. 

My team and I regularly present to the insurance industry on emerging trends, regulatory landscape and claims management in Africa. We are able to do this because of our extensive experience as well as the diverse make-up of the Africa Desk at DWF. 

Can you tell us a little more about the diverse make-up of DWF's Africa Desk in the insurance context?

We are very proud that our team consists of French, Portuguese and Arabic native speakers as well as of course English speakers. This makes us well placed to handle claims across the continent whether in Anglophone, Francophone or Lusophone jurisdictions. The team has some 20 years of experience working in Africa. 

As just one example, our Africa Desk is able to call on the expertise of Souleymane Simpara, a Senior Associate in our Paris office who is Franco-Malian. As a second example, we have Ahmed Habib a Senior Associate in our Doha office who is Egyptian and very familiar with handling disputes in North Africa. These kinds of talented people allow us to combine country and industry expertise with on-the ground know how. 

What can you tell us about the work DWF's Africa Desk does for insurers?

We have been involved in many coverage disputes as well as subrogated recoveries across lines of business in Africa. Many of these have been resolved through local litigation as well as ICC and Paris Chamber of International Arbitrations.

The Legal 500 has published testimonials in the past noting that both DWF's insurance and dispute resolution teams are very capable in Africa. For example, clients have said "DWF is reactive and has good knowledge of African countries." 

What are some of the areas our Africa Desk is especially familiar with?
We are of course well versed in French-speaking Africa law, especially the OHADA system, which is the common business law of 16 countries in Africa. We also deal regularly with claims and insurance issues arising under the CIMA Code, which is a separate common body of law for insurance.
In terms of emerging issues and the landscape in Africa, what are some of the key things for insurers to be aware of?

Investment in Africa is accelerating in most but not all jurisdictions. We have seen very high investment in the energy sector as well as in the mining and natural resources industry. This inevitably leads to claims under CAR, Energy and Property policies which we deal with regularly. 

So much is changing in Africa and it is a very dynamic continent but often, the challenges it faces are similar to those elsewhere. Data protection for example is a key area and the Algerian authorities have from 11 August 2023, stipulated that companies and organisations processing personal data must comply with Law 18-07 of 10 June 2018. Law No. 18-07 is inspired to some extent by the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU 2016/679). Insurers must be aware of these issues. 

What kind of trends do you see on the insurance market in Africa?

We closely monitor the development of parametric insurance in Africa. Parametric insurance is an index-based mechanism pursuant to which insured received an insurance indemnity whenever a pre-set criteria is met. It is usually a meteorological event (volume of rain, speed of wind) and very much ease the indemnification process. It develops quickly in Africa in a number of industries, such as agriculture, transport, tourism, energy. 

More on this in the following interview (in French): Agriculture, transport, énergie, tourisme : et si l’avenir de l’Afrique était à l’assurance paramétrique ou indicielle ? Entretien croisé avec Romain Dupeyré et Souleymane Simpara de DWF - Opinion Internationale (opinion-internationale.com)

Finally Romain, why DWF? If you were a graduate looking to apply for a training contract or an insurer seeking to instruct a lawyer, why choose DWF?
DWF's Global Risk Team brings something new to the table with dynamic, forward thinking lawyers. There is a real desire to 'join the dots' and utilise our EMEA network for the benefit of clients as well as our people. Our EMEA offices are not just 'flags in the sand' but offices staffed by very capable and competent insurance specialists. Our Africa Desk is a prime example of this. 
For more information or enquiries, please contact Bill Evans or Romain Dupeyre
Global Risk Spotlight Series
Read more from the 'Spotlight on Global Risk Series' that takes you on a journey through our offices and associate offices by introducing you to key people and capabilities.

Further Reading