ISSA laments slow penetration of social security in West Africa

professionals-securityTHE cost of financing the implementation of social security is dissuading most governments in West Africa from adopting the scheme.

Speaking at the just-concluded technical seminar tagged ‘the impact of new information and communication technology in the performance of social security’, which took place in Abuja recently, the West Africa Liaison Officer of the International Social Security Association (ISSA), Amed Bamba, said Africa has recorded about 10 to 15 percent penetration of social security .

He said: “The penetration of social security in Africa is about 10 to 15 percent. The Internet use is on the increase in offices, schools and other public places so also is the use of mobile telephones rising phenomenally even in the remotest parts of the continent. Considering the fact that ICT is now evolving, the implementation of social security is becoming easier across the continent because the workload is dramatically reduced now as against what it used to be.”

Bamba stressed that though the penetration seems low, most governments in West Africa are desirous of adopting one form of social security or the other.

“Africans have real zeal for the implementation of socials security on the continent but we seem to be having difficulty in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). That is the reason we came together to brainstorm on how to ensure the popularity of social security in the West African sub-region.

Considering the fact that the region is lags behind technology-wise, the whole African continent has done so much to improve on technology. Most people in some remotest parts of the continent are now able to communicate using mobile phones as well as the Internet,” he added.

He lauded Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) for the giant step it took in putting place a robust ICT for the implementation of the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS).

He stressed: “I believe Nigeria has made giant steps in ICT in the implementation of the social security and the rest of Africa especially the West Africa sub-region has a lot to learn from Nigeria and NSITF in particular. It is our hope that Nigeria will avail other African countries her expertize in the usage of ICT for the implementation of social security programmes.”

The Managing Director of NSITF, Munir Abubakar said the reluctance of state governments and private sector employers to embrace the ECS remain a key challenge to the implementation of the scheme.

He explained: “Finance is the key challenge in the implementation of the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) because we still have large number of employers in the private sector that are not part of the Scheme yet. There are also many state governments that are yet to key into the programme. The advantages inherent in the Scheme are still unknown to most Nigerians because most employers and state governments are reluctant to participate in the scheme.”

For the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Clement Illoh said the current global challenges should spur nations into designing a new paradigm for the delivery of social security.

His words: “The current global recession, the fall in price of our exports especially crude oil and the increasing crunch experienced in the different economies around the globe and especially in the sub-region should provide enough motivation for us to seek a change from the traditional ways of providing social security services towards a more efficient and effective social service that is customer centered, vigorous, convincing by deploying a more robust technology platform.”

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