Ambitious social protection strategy aims to achieve 40% coverage in Africa by 2025

ABIDJAN, 23 November 2021 – The International Labour Organization Regional Office for Africa has launched an ambitious strategy to accelerate social protection coverage in Africa to 40% by 2025.

Press release | 24 November 2021
Social protection is essential for inclusive growth, social justice and transformative change in the world of work, and for the successful achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences, the International Labour Conference, at its 109th Session in June 2021, adopted the resolution concerning a Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations from around the world undertook to “build forward better” in the wake of the crisis by working to “achieve universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection, including nationally defined social protection floors”.

With this in mind, the ILO’s Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy, 2021-2025: Towards 40% – a social protection coverage acceleration framework to achieve the SDGs calls for a comprehensive social protection strategy to bridge the gap between existing policies and to guarantee effective social protection at the continental level. The ILO, working with governments, workers’ and employer’s organizations will support systemic, rights-based, sustainable national social protection systems, which promote gender equality, inclusiveness and are anchored on social dialogue.

“This strategy is timely and responds to the UN Secretary-General’s recent call for a Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection to create a new era of universal social protection, green and job-rich growth,” Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, said during the high-level launch of the strategy.

The virtual launch event took place on 16 and 17 November 2021 and featured speeches by Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Dr. Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Cristina Duarte, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa; the Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder; and Claudine Ndusi M'kembe, Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security of the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

“I enthusiastically welcome the strategy for accelerating social protection coverage, developed by the ILO to support constituents’ initiatives aimed towards universal social protection at the national level. Now is the time to take decisive action about the future of social protection and purse a high-road policy approach with vigour,” the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, said in her opening remarks.

Speaking on behalf of Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the African Union, Claudine Ndusi M'kembe, Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security for the Democratic Republic of Congo, said, “Social protection is not a luxury, nor an option, it is a necessary condition for the promotion of social justice and development. It is a right.”

Ndusi M'kembe also called for the establishment of a High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Financing of Social Protection in Africa to support social protection coverage acceleration frameworks.

“Countries in Africa with the highest number of extremely poor people, also have the deepest poverty levels,” said Vera Songwe, and many social protection responses to the COVID-19 crisis included temporary measures. What is needed, rather, are programmes that consistently take people out of poverty for the long term.

Eric Manzi, Deputy Secretary General of International Trade Union Confederation – Africa, reaffirmed the willingness and readiness of workers’ organizations to support the implementation of the strategy through social dialogue. He reaffirmed the necessity to create sustainable social protection systems that are “home grown and tailored to the needs and context of each country.”

Jean Marie Ackah, President of the Confédération générale des entreprises de Côte d'Ivoire and the Federation des organisation patronale de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, also welcomed the strategy. He underscored the need to find innovative solutions that extend social protection in the African context. To identify and implement these innovative solutions, he called for social dialogue bringing together all relevant stakeholders from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, to stakeholders from the informal economy.

Cristina Duarte said, “The UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa is ready to work with the ILO, the African Union Commission and African member states in promoting this comprehensive approach to social protection in Africa.”

“Social protection is not an expense; it is an important investment, with very rich national, regional and global dividends. It enhances social justice, more inclusion, more and better distribution of wealth, coverage of the informal economy, more well-being, and more protection of Africa’s people. The acceleration agenda is Africa’s hope for achieving the SDGs,” said Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa.

Key actions towards 40% social protection coverage will include the establishment of a High-Level Panel on sustainable social protection financing to advocate for and support Member States in expanding fiscal resources to close financing gaps by ensuring adequate and sustainable financing; support member states design and implement social protection acceleration programmes, strengthening social protection data to monitor progress towards 40% objective and develop and leverage strategic partnerships

Development partners, including the African Development Bank, World Bank and the IMF, welcomed the ILO strategy as a framework for supporting Member States. They expressed their openness and availability to work with the ILO towards achieving the 40% target.

“I highly recommend the Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy to governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, civil society organizations, academicians, and research institutions; social security institutions; development partners and financial institutions,” said Samuel-Olonjuwon. “The opportunity presented is to pursue a high-road approach to accelerate progress towards universal social protection as a key for greater resilience, decent work, and social justice in Africa.”

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For more information on the launch event, please visit:

Media inquiries: Jennifer Patterson, Regional Communication and Public Information Officer, ILO Regional Office for Africa,