The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has challenged operators of pension schemes in Ghana to devise innovative ways to penetrate the informal sector to bring workers in that sector on board the National Tier 3 pension scheme.
He said bringing traders, farmers, fishermen , drivers, among others on board the pension scheme would not only add over GH¢20 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but would also reduce the dependency ratio in Ghana.
Addressing participants in a two-day intenerational workshop on the use of the Switch Technology to increase pension coverage for workers in the informal sector in Accra last Wednesday, Mr Baffour Awuah said the Switch Technology would open up the space for informal sector workers to join the pension schemes.
The Switch Technology is a computer networking device that connects devices to receive, process and forward data to other devices to speed up work and enhance revenue generation
Among the topics treated were overview of the challenges to the informal sector pensions, the importance of the Switch Technology, international experiences with Switch Technology and the state of current technology in Ghana.
The workshop – dubbed ‘Leveraging Switch Technology to increase pension coverage to informal sector workers’ – was organised by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) in collaboration with the World Bank and First 2.0 Initiative.
It was aimed at presenting the key challenges faced by participants in the pension system to reach, enrol and collect contributions in the informal sector, and presenting to them, the requisite technologies that had been introduced in Chile and Mexico where the Switch system were operating effectively.
It also offered opportunity to stakeholders to appreciate how the Switch system would bridge some gaps and support the informal sector pension scheme, and provided opportunities for participants to appreciate how Switch could be set up and operated, and how to assess the strengths and weaknesses that facilitate trustees to reach customers using a quicker means.
Participants included officials from the NPRA, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, operators and regulators of pension schemes, National Identification Authority (NIA), the World Bank, and Chile and Mexico.
“The informal sector is a big potential for operators of pension schemes, so with the introduction of the Switch Technology which has become very effective, efficient and less costly in other countries, it is important for operators of the scheme to take advantage and devise means of reaching many workers in the informal sector,” the Employment and Labour Relations Minister noted.
Strengthening the system
The Chief Executive Officer of the NPRA, Mr Hayford Attah Krufi, said it had become necessary to adopt the Switch Technology because of its proven success in other systems.
“It will reduce barriers and strengthen the pension system for us to move it across the country,” he said.
The Country Director of the World Bank, Mr Pierre Laporte, gave an assurance that the World Bank would continue to provide the technical support to the NPRA to accelerate the development of the Switch Technology in the country.
He said besides being cost effective, the Swith Technology was also very efficient and effective and would, therefore, contribute more meaningfully towards the growth of the economy if it became operational in Ghana.
“This is not unique so I hope Ghana will be the pioneer to share the technology with other neighbouring countries in the sub region,” he noted.