Managing social security institutions require good leadership skills coupled with integrity and ethical values to deliver better services and properly manage people’s pension savings.
The observation was made on Monday during the opening of a workshop that brought together officials from social security institutions from eight countries forming Eastern and Central Africa Social Security Association (ECASSA).
Experts observed that, generally, the issues affecting pension schemes are homogeneous across countries while institutions may have own challenges where integrity and ethics are not adhered to.
As a result, some members end up in the hands of law enforcement of their countries which take control and the culprits end up in jail.
“This workshop will focus on management, integrity and ethics so that our members are able to collect money from members and be able to disburse benefits in a manner that does not prejudice the member or the country,” said Richard Byarugaba, the chief executive of Uganda’s National Social Security Fund, who also doubles as the vice chairperson of ECASSA.
Created 10 years ago, ECASSA brings together eight members, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan.
“A lot of these schemes are very big in their countries; they are involved in economic development, they are involved in real estate, they are involved in investing in companies and therefore it is very important that the people who manage these schemes have the integrity and ethics to be able to run these schemes,” he added.
Byarugaba called for managers of pension schemes to promote innovation to cope with the emerging world, which is transforming faster.
He said the training was an opportunity to continue offering skills to staff of their respective social security institutions to ensure they promote ethics and integrity in their leadership endeavour.
According to Jonathan Gatera, the director-general of Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), there is need for pension managers to keep learning as the task they have is not easy.
“Transformation leadership, ethics and integrity of social security institutions are very timely, the role and task we have cannot be taken for granted, we need to be equipped, we need to be trained to give services to beneficiaries or clients,” he said.
He said that since ECASSA was formed 10 years ago, members have been able to exchange skills, adding that the good thing was that, while there is still a long way to go, they are in a position to offer quality services.
Barbra Sampa Kangwa, from Zambia Public Service Pensions Fund, said transforming leadership is key as managers have a huge task of growing funds for these social security schemes to benefit members.
“We have a huge task in terms of growing funds for these social security schemes, so that we benefit our members. We’re focusing on the leadership itself; how we can change and become innovative, so that we grow the fund for our members in the future,” she said.
The main objective of the meeting, which closes today, is to appraise the impact of social security investments in the socio-economic development of the region, share experiences and discuss the feasibility of introducing universal pensions in developing countries.