…As SSNIT hosts regional technical seminar
A two-day technical seminar on leveraging digitalization to extend social security coverage in West Africa has been held in Accra.
The seminar is being hosted by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), under the auspices of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) an international organization for social security institutions, government departments and agencies of which SSNIT is a member.
The seminar, spanning two days, united social security experts from the West African sub-region alongside an international governing body.
This collaboration has yielded significant advancements in the last decade by enhancing both legal frameworks and administrative structures.
The regional technical seminar was aimed at meeting to identify innovative solutions and practices in the use of digital and mobile technologies to extend social security coverage in the West African sub-region.
Based on sustained government commitment and development of institutional capacities, social security in West Africa, has made important progress over the past decade through strengthening both legal frameworks and administrative structures.
This encouraging result was one of the conclusions of the Regional Social Security Forum for Africa, held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 17–19 May 2023.
However, large segments of the population, and in particular workers in the informal sector, remain without social security coverage.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the development of banking services for insured persons and the introduction of new services based on mobile phone technologies. This did not only cushion people from the effect of the crisis, but also created new opportunities to extend social security coverage to the difficult-to-reach category of workers.
It is against this background that, the ISSA technical seminar has been organised to identify innovative solutions in the use of digital and mobile technologies to extend social security coverage to self-employed persons and workers in the informal sector.
Speaking during the seminar, the Secretary General of ISSA, Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, expressed appreciation to Cote d’Ivoire for hosting ISSA’s Liaison Office and to Ghana for accepting to host the Office for the next three years.
He indicated that, Ghana was chosen to host the 2023 Seminar, as well as the ISSA Liaison Office, because SSNIT has shown commitment and leadership in social security administration, thereby enhancing social protection in Ghana.
In his remarks, the Minister for Pension, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, noted that the region’s inability to cover a large percentage of the workforce under social security schemes is partly due to a lack of digitalised procedures to ease the registration process.
“This indicates that leveraging digitalization 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. I therefore call on social security institutions within West Africa to take advantage of the emergence of digital technologies to bridge the wide coverage gap”, Hon Baffour Awuah noted.
In his welcome address, the Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, charged participants to focus on technology that impacts positively on service delivery and access to social security.
“Let us not come at the discussions purely from an administrative point of view, but focus on how we can use available technology to truly impact the lives of our people. 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 populations continue to grow at substantial rates”.
“We must find ways of using technology among other interventions to increase the reach of social protection for the vast majority of our people”, Dr Ofori-Tenkorang indicated.
Meanwhile, the seminar also saw the transferof ISSA Liaison Office from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana.
Ghana has been chosen to host the Office from 2023 to 2026. The Office, will be located at the Trust Emporium, Airport City in Accra and will be responsible for promoting excellence in social security administration in the West Africa sub-region.
The Office will also 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, gathering information on region-specific interests, needs, and challenges among other functions.