Social protection: Africa's hope for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

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Social protection: Africa's hope for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals


16–17 November 2021

Ubuntu: I am because we are 


On 16th and 17th of November 2021, in accordance with the UN Secretary-General’s Common Agenda Report, the International Labour Organization convened a two-day high-level event on Social Protection Coverage in Africa in partnership with the International Training Centre of the ILO. The conference unfolded around a number of inspirational speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions introduced at the highest-level by Her Excellency Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization.

Why a Regional Strategy for accelerating Social Protection in Africa?

Despite the importance given to social protection policies, social protection coverage remains limited in the Continent

Most recent ILO estimates show that Africa has the lowest social protection coverage in the world: 17% of the total population compared with the global average of 47%. 

COVID-19 response measures, mostly provided through social assistance, had limited impact on workers in the informal economy, who are the most affected by the pandemic. 

The crisis, however, presents an opportunity to build back better and to accelerate social protection coverage across the continent. 

In light of the above, the ILO Regional Office for Africa has developed a Regional Strategy to support constituents’ initiatives aimed towards universal social protection at the national level. 

The Strategy is aligned with the UN Secretary-General’s Common Agenda Report - especially the renewed social contract between governments and their people and within societies that includes a new era of universal social protection. 

The launch of this regional strategy and its implementation programme coincide with the release, in September 2021, of the Africa Social Protection Companion Report of the World Social Protection Report 2020-2022


 Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy, 2021-2025 


What are the objectives? 
  • Official inauguration of the Regional Strategy for Accelerating Social Protection Coverage in Africa and its implementation programme; 
  • Regional launch of the World Social Protection Report and Companion Report for Africa;
  • Discussions on financing the extension of social protection in Africa to build back-better towards Agenda 2030;
What happened?

The online meeting, organized by the ILO in close collaboration with the African Union Commission, was structured over two days: 

Day 1 (duration: 2 hours) 

  • Session 1: Presentation of the main findings and policy orientations of the World Social Protection Report 2020-2021 and the Regional strategy for Accelerating Social Protection Coverage in Africa 2021-2025 
  • Session 2: High-level panel: Towards 40 percent social protection coverage in Africa 

Day 2 (duration: 3 hours) 

  • Session 1: Financing Social protection to building back-better towards Agenda 2030 Presentation of two countries cases on financing social protection 
  • Session 2: Development Partners’ Roundtable (panel): Funding the Strategy for acceleration of social protection coverage in Africa
Who attended?

This continental strategic meeting brouth together high-level officials from the following institutions: 

  • High-level representatives from UN organizations (UNECA, UNDESA, UNDCO, UNDP, WHO, FAO, UNICEF) 
  • Representatives from the African Union Commission– AU Commission and AU Organs 
  • Representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs) 
  • Representatives from Governments (Ministries in charge of social security and Finance) 
  • Representatives of workers and employers’ organizations at Continental and national level
  • Representatives from social security institutions and social security associations 2 
  • Development partners working on social protection in Africa (EU Delegations, EC, ICMPD, SIDA, UK Aid, Irish Aid, SDC,FES, GIZ, AfDB, World Bank, IMF and SPIAC-B) 
  • Civil society organizations, research and academia Click here to discover the ILO Social Protection Global Technical Team and country profile.