Stakeholder symposium on extension of social security coverage to the informal economy
Lusaka - A stakeholder's symposium on extension of social security to the informal economy was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security from 15th to 16th December 2015 at the Mika Convention Centre in Lusaka.
Drawing from experiences of the Zambia Green Jobs Programme and international best practices, the symposium launched dialogue and scoping of innovative policy options for extension of social security to the informal economy. More than 30 participants comprising officials from government, social security institutions, employers, workers and civil society organisations participated.
Mr. Anthony Dumingu, Director Social Security, officially opened the meeting on behalf of the Permanent Secretary. In his remarks he underlined that extending social security coverage to the informal economy is critical to the development of a comprehensive social security system in Zambia. He further reiterated the government's vision of a social protection system that benefits all Zambians.
The symposium served as an opportunity to disseminate study results on extension of social security coverage to informal economy groups such as agriculture, domestic workers, and saw millers. Major topics of discussion arising from the deliberations related to the critical need for proper financing strategies. The requirement of an enabling policy and legal framework to address challenges in coverage of the informal sector was also noted among the stakeholders. Other issues discussed were the need to redesign benefits structures to accommodate characteristics of the informal economy. Amongst others, it was agreed that a mobile money platform in Zambia represents a great opportunity to establish accessible and transparent mechanisms to collect contributions and pay benefits as the use of mobile phone interface can contribute to increasing confidence in the system.
As a result of the stakeholders' symposium, the technical working group on extension of social security, which was established in 2013, proposed a generic model that can be adapted to different segments of the informal economy as required. Innovative models for extension of social security to the informal economy were proposed addressing issues such as benefit design, financing, implementation modalities, complementarities and institutional factors.
A task team comprising Ministry of Labour, National Pension Scheme Authority, Workers Compensation Fund Control Board and Ministry of Health was constituted to develop a strategic concept paper and implementation model with support from the ILO through the Zambia Green Jobs Programme and the Irish Aid Funded Project Building National Floors of Social Protection in Southern Africa. This will form basis for the roadmap on next steps and budget for national activities on extension of social security coverage.
Despite its potential in terms of employment creation, the construction and building industries face serious challenges with regard to decent work. Employment is characterized by a number of vulnerable forms of work resulting from poor regulatory, governance and enforcement mechanisms. The Social Protection component of the Zambia Green Jobs Programme is meant to promote productivity and working conditions by enhancing access to social protection among MSMEs in the sector.