Africa’s Growing Funeral Business Attracts Insurance Companies

October 8, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. lucrative [LOO-kruh-tiv] (adj.) – very profitable or can produce large profit
Example: Investors target a lucrative market to earn more profit.

2. insurance [in-SHOOR-uh ns, -SHUR-] (n.) – a contract in which money is paid in exchange of protection from possible loss, damage, illness, or death
Example: His company pays for his health insurance due to his risky job.

3. lavishly [LAV-ish-ly] (adv.) –  done luxuriously or generously
Example: Because of their tradition, Africans lavishly spend huge amount of money on funerals.

4. extravagant [ik-STRAV-uh-guh nt] (adj.) – unnecessarily or unreasonably exceeding what is appropriate
ExampleExtravagant ceremonies and funerals often cost a lot of money.

5. dignified [DIG-nuh-fahyd] (adj.) – showing respect or honor
Example: In some countries, family and friends hold dignified memorials for their dead loved ones.


Read the text below.
Insurance companies are now looking at the booming funeral business in Africa as a lucrative opportunity to increase sales.  

Funerals are considered as extravagant ceremonies in Africa. As a result, Africans spend lavishly in honoring the dead. In fact, people will think that one is poor if he or she holds only a small or intimate funeral instead of a big one.

The funeral business in Africa is growing rapidly due to the high mortality rate in the continent. Most of the countries with the highest death rates are actually located in Africa. One of which is South Africa, whose mortality rate remains high despite having a good economy.

While mortality rates are high, most people in the continent do not have enough savings to afford big dignified funerals and ceremonies. Even so, a big demand for funeral insurance still exists because of the Africans’ cultural tradition of having lavish funerals, said Jacky Huma, head of micro-insurance at the South Africa's Financial Services Board. This condition is what insurance companies find advantageous.

With funeral insurance, Africans, especially those who are unemployed and have many dependents, can make sure that they can still hold a proper funeral for their loved ones.

Gautam Duggal, the head of bancassurance for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, added that funeral insurance is the leading product in most markets. It contributes to more than 60 percent of the banks' individual life insurance sales.

On another note, entrepreneurs also discovered ways to earn money by creating a virtual platform for harambee, a tradition in which families and friends raise money to contribute to the funeral expense.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, is it important to have big funerals for a dead loved one? Please explain your answer.
·         Why do you think Africa has very high death rates?

Discussion B

·         How do you think traditions and customs can affect a country’s economy? Explain.
·         Do you think your country’s traditions are helping your economy? Why or why not?


October 8, 2013