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Africa Pension Supervisors Association 4th Annual Conference

Introduction

Background to APSA

The African Pension Supervisors’ Association (APSA) is a membership body that brings together pension regulators and supervisors from across Africa to canvass issues of common interest. The goal of the Association is to provide a platform for collaboration, co-operation and exchange of information and ideas to better supervise, regulate and grow the pension sector on the continent. The association is spearheaded by an Executive Committee elected from among the member institutions. Equally, the association has a permanent secretariat hosted by the Retirement Benefits Authority, Kenya.

The idea of forming an association was mooted by African pension supervisors who are members of the International Organization of Pension Supervisors (IOPS) during a side meeting at an IOPS forum in Berlin, Germany in 2016. IOPS is a global organization for pension regulators and supervisors that focuses on improving the quality and effectiveness of the supervision of private
pension systems throughout the world, thereby enhancing their development and operational efficiency, and allowing for the provision of a secure source of retirement income in as many countries as possible.

Arising from a meeting on the sidelines, the African pension supervisors noted the limited time available at IOPS meetings making it impossible for them to discuss all issues partaining to various member countries. Additionally, common challenges of the continent are not largely experienced by other pension jurisdictions. The foregoing scenario ignited the idea that the continent needs
a forum to discuss such issues and learn from their different experiences and perspectives with an aim to address the respective challenges.

The initial founding membership of APSA comprised six countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. Other countries that have also joined the network are Botswana, Egypt, Mauritius, Ghana, Morocco, Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and Sierra Leone. This trend, is a clear indication that the membership is expected to continue
expanding as more countries have expressed interest in joining. The association is expected to foster collaboration among member countries to enable them to deliver on their commitment to a healthy financial future for their citizens. The collaboration also provides the impetus needed to unlock the potential of the pension sector on the continent. Equally, through the network, countries would be better placed to tackle common problems and find solutions to challenges unique to Africa. Some of the notable challenges include lower investment returns and Africa’s labour structure that comprises approximately 86 percent of labour force being in the informal sector and with limited access to the pension services. The network is poised to accelerate the pace of reforms in the pension space for greater economic impact in Africa. This will include harnessing the opportunities available through fintech. The network equally plays a key role in safeguarding offshore pensions investments against risks related to cross-border transactions.

One of the key organs of the network is the Africa Pension Supervisors’ Conference which is an annual forum bringing together pension supervisory bodies, professionals, and pension sector practitioners from across the continent.

So far, three such annual conferences have been held including the inaugural one held in Nairobi – Kenya in September 2019. The second conference was held virtually in September 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that restricted travels and in-person meetings. The third forum was held in Kigali – Rwanda in July 2022. These conferences are hosted on a
voluntary basis by the member countries and are partly financed by FSD Africa. Aside from the annual conference, the APSA is expected to run some planned initiatives on pension coverage expansion in member countries. Specifically, the network will facilitate and coordinate regional research, knowledge management and capacity building initiatives. Other programmes include:

  1. Policy and Regulatory Support: through undertaking policy dialogues, peer to peer learning, and development and issuance of principles and guidelines for better supervision and regulation of the pensions sector.
  2. Research and Advocacy: through targeted research on topical areas relevant to the pension industry and advocacy on pension inclusion and increased uptake of alternative investment instruments.
  3. Capacity Building: through targeted capacity building conferences, workshops, and forums for relevant pension industry stakeholders for purposes of sharing knowledge and best practices.
  4. Knowledge Management and Information Sharing: through annual conferences, development of a centralized data repository and dissemination of research, publications, and other materials.