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Ghana hosts West Africa Liaison office of ISSA

Ghana hosts West Africa Liaison office of ISSA
By Admin | 4th Oct 2023 | Hits 391

Ghana has taken over from Cote D’voire as the host of the West Africa Liaison Office for the International Social Security Association (ISSA) for the next three years. The office to be located in Accra would be responsible for promoting excellence in social security administration in the West Africa sub-region from 2023 to 2026.

It would be responsible for developing dynamic social security systems and policies, serving as a communication channel between the West Africa sub-region and the ISSA General Secretariat, and gather information on region-specific interests, needs, and challenges concerning social security.

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, made this known at the International Social Security Association Technical seminar on the theme “Digitalisation to Leverage Extension of Social Security Coverage in West Africa”. The seminar was hosted by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) under the auspices of ISSA, an international organization for social security institutions, government departments and agencies of which SSNIT is a member.

The objective of the technical seminar was to identify innovative solutions and good practices in the use of digital and mobile technologies to extend social security coverage, especially to workers in the informal sector. The selection of the country as the new host was due to the commitment and leadership in social security administration which had enhanced social protection in country.

The Labour minister said issues of pensions and social security were fundamentally important as it guaranteed retirement income security for workers in their old age indicating that in recent times coverage of social protection had witnessed some tremendous progress in the continent as Africa countries continue to introduce innovation into social protection programmes to improve coverage. Despite the efforts the ISSA’s 2023 report on Social Security Developments and Trends in Africa has revealed that only 27.1 percent of older persons in Africa receive old-age benefits, compared to a global average of 77.5 percent.

“In Ghana, social security coverage has overly focused on the formal sector, which constitutes 27.3 per cent of the estimated working population of 9.9 million.

“As of March 2023, the total membership of the SSNIT Scheme was estimated at 1.8 million. This means that about 8.1 million of the estimated working population may not have any form of social security cover”, he disclosed.

To improve coverage in the country, Mr Awuah said since 2021, the process of enrolling onto the SSNIT Scheme in the country had been simplified through the Ghana Card. Government he added was also leveraging on digital technology to introduce a new software for the pension’s regulator, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) in that regard.

The new software would be seeking to automate the regulatory processes of the NPRA and ensure real-time monitoring to safeguard pension funds and investments. He said digital interventions through partnerships with pension trustees, telcos, and banks in rolling out various mobile pension products over 600,000 self-employed persons now have some form of social security cover.

Mr Awuah said the government has collaborated with the various pension agencies to bring onto the SSNIT scheme 2 million cocoa farmers which was expected to be operational by the end of the year, and “that if successful, the number of contributors will rise to 3.8 million and beyond”. Mr Awuah said government recognize the importance of data in dealing with issue concerning the labour sector and for this reason, the Ministry was piloting the Ghana Labour Market Information System (GLMIS).