Pension sector supervisors and regulators from all over Africa converged yesterday and today at Serena Hotel Kampala, to discuss ways of extending pension coverage to more citizens around the continent. This will be the 4th Annual Conference of the African Pension Supervisors Association (APSA).
Collaboration for the Future
APSA is a platform that brings together pension industry regulators and supervisors from across the continent. The Association seeks to enhance pension supervision and regulation by providing a platform for collaboration, cooperation, and exchange of information and ideas to better supervise, regulate, and grow the pension sector on the continent.
Strategies to Alleviate Old-Age Poverty
Organized by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), the 2023 APSA Conference brought together a diverse audience of over 100 public and private sector stakeholders from Africa and beyond to discuss strategies to make pension and retirement benefits more inclusive, to alleviate old-age poverty.
Sustained Voluntary Retirement Saving
Under the theme of Sustainable Pension Inclusion in Africa, the conference will discuss ways of achieving sustained voluntary retirement savings by non-salaried workers with modest, intermittent incomes.
The URBRA Chief Executive Officer, Martin Anthony Nsubuga expressed optimism that the lessons from the conference would improve sector operations in Uganda as a host country.
“Uganda is honored to host the 4th Annual APSA Conference. It will enable Ugandan Pension Sector Players to learn from the ideas and experiences of colleagues from other parts of the world. The conference will have a lasting positive impact on the retirement benefits sector and the country as a whole,” Mr. Nsubuga said.
Mr. Nsubuga expressed concern that many Africans were excluded from the existing retirement benefits arrangements. “In Uganda, just about three million people are registered with existing retirement benefits arrangements, compared to a working population of over twenty million.
“This situation is also reflected at the continental level where about 600 million economically active informal sector workers across Africa are excluded from formal pension arrangements and face the prospect of living in extreme poverty for over 20 years after they are too old to work,” he said.
Factors Perpetuating Exclusion from Retirement
Some of the key factors that perpetuate the exclusion from retirement savings include high unemployment and poverty rates among the youth; digital inequality where rapid digitization of services has left many people behind; irregular remittance of contributions by non-compliant employers; and inadequate savings which can barely cover retirement requirements like health care, decent shelter, and reliable cashflow.
The Exclusion of Women from Retirement Benefits
Women also face a high level of exclusion from retirement benefits arrangements since there are fewer women in employment compared to men.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, even when formally employed, women tend to concentrate on less-paying service work and elementary occupations rather than highly-paid professional work and key positions such as CEOs and senior officials, which has implications for their retirement benefits.
Building Inclusive Mechanisms and Pension Systems
“The only way to alleviate this trend of exclusion is to build inclusive mechanisms and pension systems that provide citizens with secure, accessible, affordable, and well-regulated pension and retirement benefits products,” Mr. Nsubuga recommended.
Amalgamation of Global Thought Leaders
In that regard, the APSA conference will be an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences between delegates from within Africa and from countries across Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
Participants will include policymakers, regulators, senior government officials, private sector actors, financial inclusion stakeholders, pension sector thought leaders, and senior economists among other experts.
Increasing the Pool of Patient Capital
In her remarks, the Principal Capital Markets Specialist at FSD Africa, Mary Njuguna said, “Growing the pension sector will increase the pool of patient capital available for investment into assets such as infrastructure, and this will result in the growth of African economies, ensuring a better life for all our citizens.”