What are the main achievements of this revolution?
There is no longer room for opacity, for despotism and its control over the economy. Any regime change means political instability, but I am optimistic. Completing the Constitution is a major challenge for our politicians. This should clear the way for new initiatives and a return of investment. We want to take part in this new surge of modern Tunisia, which, with its human resources and strategic position, might well become an international financial hub.
What is your outlook on the Insurance sector in Tunisia and STAR’s role in it?
Just like the rest of the insurance sector, STAR was hit by the events in 2011. This led to changes at the general management level, and landed me at the helm of this enterprise. This was a dream I had ever since I became responsible for insurance at the Finance ministry. Although 2011 closed with a drop in activity of around 5%, STAR’s turnover rose by nearly 16 % in 2012. We did an overhaul of both the organisation and the worker compensation system, which had remained unchanged since STAR became a private company. This allowed us to create a healthier corporate climate, an essential asset to ensure that STAR’s workers are committed to the modernization of the company. It is a major culture shift, which calls for reducing claim settlement times, swiftly responding to new needs and creating new products. Our partner Groupama has likewise undergone a small revolution of its own, with the replacement of its general management by a younger team. We have therefore converged in terms of strategy and outlook. STAR has taken a remarkable leap. It has strengthened its leadership position and shown the biggest growth in twenty years.
The Tunisian insurance sector has enormous potential, given the economy’s fundamentals. Among OECD countries the average penetration rate ranges between 7 and 10%, while ours stands at a mere 2%. We shall be transparent and honest, and implement good governance rules. We need to drive towards the future, because STAR’s ambition is to become a regional player.
What regions do you have in your sights?
Our first target is the Maghreb, from Libya to Mauritania. I trust that the politicians will help us. Tunisia’s approval of Attijariwafa’s plans to set up an affiliate in the country is a strong message. While the North African markets are undergoing transition periods, Tunisia is bent on opening up to the region. STAR will attempt to seize this opportunity once it has completed its modernisation. STAR has a sufficiently large financial cushion to address any aim or strategic challenge in this field.
Would you welcome the arrival of new entrants into the sector?
Yes, I would rather share wealth. Admittedly there are tremors at the moment, but stability will return. In Chinese, “crisis” is spelt similarly to “opportunity”. Those who now show trust and support towards Tunisia will be the country’s true friends in the long term.