Officials from Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) have said that they target to increase threefold the return on investments from the current 5 per cent to 15 per cent by 2025, pledging to optimise funds and further improve the welfare of its members. “We have been registering about 5 per cent of return on our investment from 2016 to 2021. We have a very ambitious plan to get that performance to 15 per cent by 2025. And it is indeed ambitious, but possible,” said Regis Rugemanshuro, RSSB Chief Executive Officer. “How are we going to get there? I think all of the transformation we are doing is to allow the institution to be agile enough or be equipped with human capital and analytical tools to allow us to assess those available opportunities,” he said. Rugemanshuro made the disclosure on Wednesday, October 12, during a media engagement session entitled “A New Partnership: Putting Members First.” “We are leveraging the renowned global companies as investment advisors to help us understand the global market much better, taking advantage of those opportunities,” he said, indicating that they could help it to refine and reshape its investment strategies, but also tap into global opportunities available. Now, RSSB has autonomy in terms of financial and administration matters [thanks to the law of 2021 establishing it]. “We have managed to achieve our autonomy, which is a big step for the institution to remove bureaucracies and be able to leverage time. Time is the most lucrative factor you can have in any operation or any undertaking. If you manage to use your time efficiently, your money will go up as well,” he said. “All these changes will help us to be much better equipped to increase our performance [for improved welfare or our members],” Rugemanshuro said. Speaking to The New Times, Dorothée Uwimana, the President of the Rwanda Pensioners’ Association, said that there was indeed a need for strategic investments that are based on well-informed studies in order to ensure the sustainability of the pension fund and better living conditions of pensioners. “The cost of living is high while the franc’s value declines over time, which weakens the purchasing power. If there is no strategy to generate income through profitable investment, the future of the pension scheme and pensioners would be unstable,” she said. “But with profitable ventures, we hope that RSSB will increase the pension benefits for the retirees’ well-being,” she said. RSSB’s assets and profit at a glance Philippe Watrin, Chief Investment Officer at RSSB, told The New Times that overall, the institution holds about Rwf1.7 trillion (Rwf1,700 billion) assets under management as of June 2022, indicating that its annual profit was estimated at Rwf80 billion currently (in 2022). Information from RSSB shows that it made Rwf54 billion in profits on its portfolio in the fiscal year 2018/2019. RSSB manages five schemes. Watrin said that pension scheme and workers’ medical insurance scheme make more than 90 per cent of the total assets, while the remaining fraction is contributed by the maternity leave benefits, the community-based health insurance (CBHI) commonly known as Mutuelles de Santé, and the long-term savings scheme – EjoHeza. To put RSSB assets into context, they are equivalent to 15 per cent of Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was estimated at Rwf10,944 billion as of 2021 as per the data from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda; and 36 per cent of Rwanda’s over Rwf4,650 billion budget for the current financial year. So far, he said, the best performing areas in which RSSB invested include bank deposits, as well as treasury bonds and bills which have high yields. Attracting best staff Rugemanshuro said that RSSB wants to bring on board the best and brightest people into the country to work for its members (through better resources management) for improved profitability and welfare. “RSSB has to be the most inspiring institution to work for if you really want to make an impact...We have actually managed to increase the salaries to be competitive enough to the industry. So, we hope those best and brightest can really come to work for RSSB in the country,” he said. “You can have the money, the tools, but if you don’t have the best people, you are just wasting your time,” he said. RSSB’s investments Cash and bank balances (bank deposits) accounted for the largest share of RSSB’s investments in 2021, as they took 31 per cent of its portfolio, according to data from the institution. They were followed by equities (money invested in companies in the form of shares) with 30 per cent, and treasury bonds and bills with 22 per cent. Investment properties (real estate) accounted for 10 per cent, while corporate bonds represented 6 per cent. According to Watrin, RSSB provides around 12 per cent of the country’s financial sector liquidity, directly contributing to the Government’s effort in nation building, whilst providing liquidity to SMEs through banks (loans). About 85 per cent of RSSB funds are invested in Rwanda. Such investments include the Bank of Kigali – the largest bank in Rwanda – in which RSSB is the largest shareholder with 35 per cent of stake. The remaining 15 per cent of RSSB (funds) is invested in foreign firms.