Ghana is currently the host of the West Africa Liaison Office for the International Social Security Association (ISSA)

Published on 03 October, 2023.

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 first day of the seminar took place concurrently with the opening ceremony of the ISSA Liaison Office for West Africa, which will be hosted by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust of 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.

The objective of the technical seminar is to identify innovative solutions and good practices in the use of digital and mobile technologies to extend social security coverage, especially to workers in the informal sector.

The seminar seeks to target large segments of the population, and in particular workers in the informal sector, who remain without social security coverage.

The liaison officer for the office is Nana Asor Ampem-Asare and her assistant is Naa Kwarley Sawyerr.

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.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, in his remarks, 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.

The President of Ghana, H.E Nana Akufo-Addo, he said, has also indicated his complete support and commitment to ensuring the office’s success.

He revealed that the government has since last collaborated with the various pension agencies to bring onto the SSNIT scheme 2 million cocoa farmers.

He indicated that this would be operational by the end of the year, and that if successful, the number of contributors will rise to 3.8 million and beyond.

He also stated that the government will continue to look into ways to engage other sectors of the economy, such as those in transportation and trade associations.

He indicated that this would be operational by the end of the year, and that if successful, the number of contributors will expand from 1.8 million to 3.8 million and beyond.

Despite the ongoing progress being made both nationally and regionally, it is crucial to remember that social security is at a key crossroads since COVID-19 and other worldwide crises have highlighted the critical role of social protection as a frontline policy response, he said.

“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.