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Evolution of the retirements benefits discussion to attract a younger audience

By Bernard Ewalu Olupot

As Uganda prepares to host the 4th annual African Pension Supervisors Association slated for the 27th and 28th of November at Serena Hotel kampala, several questions can be asked about an industry that has traditionally attracted conversation and attention from people of fairly advanced age. There are several arising issues steming from the fact that in today’s changing world, most of what we know as fact a few years ago can be contested and/or disputed. In the past, the discussion around retirements was predominantly one had for and by elderly people. But as time has progressed, it has become more important to shift the conversation to a much younger audience.

Nearly 600 million young economically active informal sector workers all over the African content are not part of the formal pension and social protection systems. This raises several worries and risks because they all risk being in extreme poverty in the not so distant future. Africa is the youngest continent and is experiencing one of the fastest population growth figures. It is projected that the population will explode from 69 million in 2017 to 226 million elderly by 2050 at least according to the the UN population projections. By then, it is expected that the cumulative fiscal cost of a tax funded lifelong pension of even just US$1 a day to the future elderly without retirement benefits could be as ridiculously high as $1.7 trillion. It goes without saying that immediate intervention is required to offer some kind of remedy to this pending issue. If the situation does not change, the level of poverty among the elderly in Africa will only get worse.

This burden of the elderly will most likely have far reaching effects, lowering the potential for economic growth of the continent. A good number of African countries have therefore taken it upon themselves to take action and be the change they want to see. Many of them are seriously considering putting in place new legislation and new programs that are contribution-led and target the micro-pension area. The idea is to attain broad based social protection to lower the vulnerability age for the workforce that is excluded from the formal processes. With time, it is expected that these principles and guidelines if properly planned and executed, will greatly reduce the budgetary pressures brought about by increasing the self provision, contributing to economic growh through the long term domestic savings and essentially providing more depth and liquidity to capiral markets.

Because of this, the Africa Pension Supervisors’ Association (APSA) could not have chosen a better time to visit this very important discussion. APSA with support from FSD Africa, and in partnership with Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) and pinBox Solutions are co-hosting the 2023 APSA Annual Conference that is expeccted to culminate in the launch of an actionable dialogue and collaborative action for expanding pension coverage to non-salaried informal sector workers across the Continent.

As we look forward to the conference, it will be interesting to see what ideas Uganda as a country can adopt from across other African countries as we look to secure the future of our own young people as a nation. It will also be interesting to see what interventions and strategies cut across the entire contient seeing as most of the problems we suffer are similar from one country another.

One thing is for sure though, today, there are more young people involved in the Retirements Benefits conversations than ever before – that can only be a good thing.

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