Tech takes centre-stage in expanding West African social security

Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, Director-General-Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT)

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Director-General, Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, has underscored the pivotal role of technology in enhancing service delivery and access to social security.

This call to action came during a two-day technical seminar organised by SSNIT in partnership with the International Social Security Association (ISSA), to explore the potential of digitalisation in expanding the West African region’s social security coverage.

Addressing participants at the seminar, Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang urged stakeholders to view the use of technology as an essential tool in improving the African population’s lives.

“We cannot fail in this endeavour: because when you look at the map for social security coverage globally, you will find that Africa is one of the least-covered areas even though our population continues to grow at a substantial rate. We must find ways of using technology among other interventions to increase the reach of social protection for the vast majority of our people,” he said.

The seminar, held in Accra, aimed to identify innovative solutions and best practices in leveraging digital and mobile technologies to extend social security coverage throughout the West African sub-region. It was organised in response to the need to address significant coverage gaps, particularly among workers in the informal sector and the self-employed, despite improvements in the region’s legal frameworks and administrative structures.

One significant catalyst for reevaluating the approach to social security coverage was the COVID-19 pandemic. It not only prompted the development of banking services for insured individuals, but also opened new avenues for utilising mobile phone technologies to extend social security coverage to previously underserved categories of workers.

Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, Secretary-General of ISSA, commended the host countries – Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana – for their commitment to enhancing social protection in the region. He noted that Ghana has been selected to host the ISSA Liaison Office over the next three years, due to its leadership in social security administration.

In agreement, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, emphasised that the lack of digitalised procedures has contributed to the region’s inability to cover a significant portion of the workforce under social security schemes. He asserted: “Leveraging digitalisation to extend social security coverage is critical. Therefore, investing in this to extend social security coverage is not an aspiration that can be deferred to the future.”

The seminar also marked the official transfer of the ISSA Liaison Office from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana, which will host the office from 2023 to 2026. Situated at the Trust Emporium in Airport City, Accra, the office will serve as a hub for promoting excellence in social security administration within the West Africa sub-region.

It will also facilitate communication between the region and ISSA General Secretariat, gather region-specific information and address the unique challenges and needs of West Africa’s social security landscape.

Leave a Reply