Members of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) have come together to chart a course for change to bring the informal sector under the umbrella of social security systems around the world.
The International Social Security Association (ISSA), an extension of the ILO, works to strengthen social security services for its membership in more than 170 countries.
During the official launch of the ISSA Liaison Office at the NSSF Headquarters in Kampala, ISSA Regional Coordinator Magid Fathallah mentioned that when discussing challenges, certain groups faced difficulties in reaching them.
He noted that these groups included the self-employed, wage earners without formal employment contracts, individuals involved in household labor, the informal economy such as rural agriculture, fishing and construction, and different categories of internal and international migrant workers, seasonal and domestic workers
In a recent interview with the Uganda Radio Network (URN), ISSA Secretary-General Marcelo Abi-Lamia Caetano highlighted the ongoing challenges of extending social security to the informal sector, not only In Uganda, but also in many countries around the world.
Caetano noted that this challenge stems from the unique nature of the informal sector, despite its large labor contribution. He emphasized that harnessing digitization could be key to integrating the informal sector into social protection systems.
Uganda currently provides social security to only 11% of the workforce, a significantly lower figure considering the country’s workforce of more than 16 million people is mainly employed in the informal sector and agriculture.
While the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has not yet extended coverage to these sectors, the revised law has now made its inclusion mandatory.
NSSF Managing Director Patrick Ayota sees ISSA as an opportunity to learn from countries that are doing well digitally.
He believes that digital services easily accessible through mobile phones can play a vital role in expanding social security coverage, complemented by innovative strategies in other countries.
Ayota also pointed to a positive trend that employers with fewer employees are subscribing to the fund, in line with the new law, a sign of growing support for social security in the country.
Inspired by the agency, Kenya’s NSSF, known for its highly digitized process of collecting a certain percentage of mobile money transactions, it is believed that this approach could resonate well within the informal sector, minimizing its members’ financial burden.
Recent developments by the ISSA include convening a meeting of member countries in Uganda to exchange views on successful social security practices.
The meeting reached a major decision to establish the ISSA East and Central Africa Regional Liaison Office at the NSSF headquarters in Kampala, aiming to strengthen cooperation and communication within the region.
As the economy continues to evolve, with a significant portion of the workforce working outside traditional workforce structures, this collaborative move marks a critical shift in addressing the rights and well-being of millions of people who have previously been in the shadow of economic stability .
This international coalition develops strategies to reshape the social protection landscape, with a mission to bridge the gap between formal and informal employment, creating a path to greater security and equity for all.
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