Social Protection in Africa

Africa has shown strong political will at the highest level to put in place policies aimed at building sustainable development and ensuring effective access to social protection. That political commitment is reflected in multiple continental policy and strategic frameworks, including the Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, which outlines an African Union (AU) strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of Africa within 50 years, and the Abidjan Declaration-Advancing Social Justice: Shaping the future of work in Africa, adopted by ILO Constituents during the 14th African Regional Meeting in December 2019, which calls for progressively extending sustainable social protection coverage.

Despite the importance given to social protection policies at both regional and national levels, social protection coverage remains limited in Africa, where only 17 per cent of the total population receive at least one social protection benefit compared with the global average of 47 per cent (ILO, WSPR 2020/22). That leaves 1.2 billion Africans without any social protection coverage.

Considering the political, social and economic imperative for accelerating the extension of social protection in Africa, a comprehensive strategy is needed to bridge the gap between existing policies and to guarantee effective social protection at the continental level.

The ILO Regional Office for Africa, in close collaboration with the AU, launched the Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy 2021-2025: Towards 40 % – a social protection coverage acceleration framework to achieve the SDGs (ARSPS 2021-2025). The Strategy addresses the root causes of coverage deficits on the continent, establishes principles that should guide the extension of social protection, and identifies three action areas that are necessary to bring about tangible change.

The ARSPS 2021-2025 is in line with the UN Secretary-General’s’ Common Agenda Report and is built on recent developments in social protection both at the global and regional level. It is informed by the Resolution concerning the second recurrent discussion on social protection (social security) adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2021, which contains a framework for action towards universal adequate, comprehensive and sustainable social protection systems that are adapted to the developments in the world of work.

In this spirit, the Regional Office for Africa is committed to supporting and facilitating dialogue on the establishment of a Global Fund for social protection that responds to the needs of the region.