New Forms of Social Insurance: The Case of the TUC–UNIWA Informal Sector Pension Scheme in Ghana

Prince Asafu-Adjaye

Asafu-Adjaye, Prince. 2022. New Forms of Social Insurance: The Case of the TUC-UNIWA Informal Sector Pension Scheme in Ghana. WIEGO Resource Document No. 29. Manchester, UK: WIEGO.

The TUC–UNIWA Informal Sector Pension Scheme was established in Ghana in 2017 by the Union of Informal Workers Associations (UNIWA) as a registered as a voluntary group pension scheme with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA). Despite its flexible contribution regime, the scheme has struggled to grow – having only 1,511 members – a mere 0.8 percent of UNIWA’s total 185,000 membership, at the time of this research. Uptake is however higher among female UNIWA members, speaking to the gendered need and demand of female informal economy workers for social security in later life. Low income, lack of education and awareness about the scheme, as well as a lack of trust due to negative experiences with formal social security schemes in the past have all been identified as barriers to enrollment. Another challenge is the fact that individual long-term savings schemes such as this one cannot guarantee adequate retirement incomes for most of their informal worker members. Based on the average membership age of 48 and a standard monthly contribution of US$15, by the time workers reach 60 their payout would amount to just US$2,468. This cannot ensure that people will not outlive their savings or that their savings will generate sufficiently high returns. Government support in the form of matching subsidies could play an important role in enhancing the reach, sustainability and impact of the TUC–UNIWA scheme. This would enable the scheme to extend beyond its current consumption-smoothing function to enable insurance, poverty relief and redistribution.

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