Many social security institutions in Africa experience problems of governance and
management against the background of the serious challenges faced by public policy
in Africa in general. These include economic problems and the institutional design
of social security policies inherited from colonial systems, and resulting governance
problems. Economic and political challenges and the pressure of globalisation have
placed welfare states under siege since the 1980s. The administration of social
security systems is complex, and many schemes have not been managed in the best
interests of the contributors and beneficiaries. Moreover, in many African countries
there are clear indications of excessive state interference.
Social security is a universal need, and is recognised as a basic human right, by
both the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations (UN). Social
security is not a luxury that a state can accord its citizens only when growth has
taken place, or when countries have reached a particular level of per capita income.
This article raises the question whether African social policy in particular has
changed significantly during this period of challenges. The article provides a brief
overview of the main characteristics of current social protection schemes, while
acknowledging that designs vary considerably across countries, focusing mainly
on developing countries, particularly in Africa, making it difficult to generalise.
The article concludes by arguing that, for a social security system to be feasible in
the current circumstances of widespread economic crisis, appropriate regulatory
authorities need to be put in place to regulate the private and public environment,
and to ensure, amongst other things proper customer care.