As of March 2023, the total membership of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Scheme was estimated at 1.8 million, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Minister of Employment, Labour Relations and Pensions, has disclosed.
This, he said means that about 8.1 million of the estimated Ghana’s working population of 9.9 million might not have any form of social security coverage, which shows that leveraging digitalisation to extend social security coverage was long overdue.
“The overwhelming importance of digitalisation today is there for everybody to see. I call on social security institutions within West Africa to take advantage of the emergence of digital technologies to bridge the wide coverage gap,” Mr Baffour Awuah stated at the SSNIT – International Social Security Association (ISSA) Technical Seminar in Accra.
The two-day meeting on the theme “Digitalisation to Leverage Extension of Social Security Coverage in West Africa” is being attended by participants from the West Africa sub-region.
The Minister said in Ghana, social security coverage had overly focused on the formal sector, which constitutes 27.3 per cent of the estimated working population of 9.9 million.
He said about 600,000 self-employed persons now had some form of social security cover. He said over the last couple of years, the Employment, Labour and Pensions sector had benefited from the Government’s digitalisation agenda in the delivery of services to the public.
He said currently, the Government was piloting the Ghana Labour Market Information System (GLMIS), a web-based repository of all Labour Market data/information.
The GLMIS creates a platform for employers and jobseekers to interact on job vacancies, skills in demand, skills in supply and related matters.
Mr Baffour Awuah said a unique feature of the system was that it would provide policymakers with real-time labour market information which would feed into evidence-based national development planning including the establishment of robust and sound social protection programmes for the country.
He noted that the Government was leveraging on digital technology to introduce new software for the pensions regulator, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA).
He said the new software would be seeking to automate the regulatory processes of the NPRA and ensure real-time monitoring to safeguard pension funds and investments.
Mr Baffour Awuah said with this software, beneficiaries and service providers would be able to interface with the NPRA remotely and at their convenience without having to travel long distances to access their services.
Adding that this would not only save time but also money which could be used to purchase various pension and social security products available on the market and secure a better future in retirement.
Mr Baffour Awuah said the Government through the NPRA and SSNIT had also streamlined the pension processes and that from 2021, the process of enrolling on the SSNIT Scheme had been simplified through the Ghana Card.
He said one does not need much documentation to enrol on a Pension Scheme but just the Ghana Card.
“Subsequently, this has led to a marked improvement in social security administration with enrolment increasing steadily.” He said the Government would continue to leverage technology to ensure SSNIT brings its services closer to the people.
Mr Baffour Awuah said in Africa, countries had introduced innovation into social protection programmes to improve coverage. He said despite these interventions, coverage of social protection remains low in Africa.
According to ISSA’s 2023 Report on Social Security Developments and Trends in Africa, only 27.1 per cent of older persons in Africa receive old-age benefits, compared to a global average of 77.5 percent.
Similarly, the Report revealed that only 17.4 per cent of the population in Africa is covered by at least one social protection benefit, compared to a global figure of 46.9 percent.
Ghana is currently the host of the West Africa Liaison Office for the ISSA, taking over from the Ivory Coast, which used to host the Office for several years.