A chat about social protection during the Social Security Academy with John Kwaning Mbroh, the Director of Standards and Compliance for the National Pensions Regulatory Authority in Ghana
On a crisp fall morning in the midst of the bustling Academy on Social Security, I met with John Kwaning Mbroh. He is the Director of Standards and Compliance for the National Pensions Regulatory Authority in Ghana. Together we discussed his experience at the Academy and his reflections on poverty.
John was one of the 85 participants who partook in this year’s Academy on Social Security. This learning activity is the most comprehensive training package delivered by the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO) in the field of social protection. The Academy addresses a wide range of topics such as the extension of social protection, efficient governance, sustainable financing, and reform options with some of the best lecturers on these topics. This year the Academy welcomed individuals from more than 30 different countries.
For John, attending the Academy seemed a natural decision: “I feel that to be able to govern and to regulate the industry there's a need for us, for myself, to also get first-hand knowledge on social protection in terms of pension. [As a result,] I’ll be on the same page as my regulated entity. There are so many dynamics that I’ve been exposed to. I’m elated!”
The wide range of topics covered and the experts involved in the Academy left John rather inspired. So much so that he believes this training should be compulsory for public office holders.
I would think that it must be mandatory for especially all regulators, public officials, and public institutions to have training on social protection. They must come to the ITCILO and go through the basic training because it’s fundamental.
He underlines the fact that these public office holders are the main advisers to the government. If they do not have the adequate training in social protection, this leads to a significant flaw in the system. He explains further, “It’s good to share. The developing, lower income countries like ours must have a system, there must be a team to go around these countries and talk to people who matter.”
Impactful, positive change is in the hands of these individuals.
Every professional role comes with its series of challenges and successes. In Ghana, John has faced a series of obstacles to overcome as well as proud moments to celebrate.
“The biggest challenges have been to extend social security or pension coverage in the informal sector,” he explained. “We partnered with the World Bank to keep us in the system whether it's a formal firm, a plug-in, or a platform that all the bureau’s actors and players will be able to feed into. Our target is to eliminate old age poverty within a particular period.”
On the other hand, his work has allowed him to assist to a series of positive changes in the field. He elaborated on a recent project incorporating Fintech: “In Ghana we have about 95% of the population on mobile phones and our view is that mobile phones can help the actors who have just tried to leverage on that technology.”
The trainings offered at the Centre are an opportunity to grow intellectually and to broaden perspectives. John experienced a fundamental change in his point of view after the Academy.
We’re talking about two weeks and my disposition changed. The barriers I had in my mind, the technical barriers here and there. Gone. I’ve never moved position until this course. This is feasible--suddenly I had a realization.
He further reflects on the interconnectedness of the poor and social security: “I recall a former president in Ghana who said that said if you fail to protect the majority who are poor, the few who are rich cannot have the security. You cannot guarantee the security if you are rich. But now I've come to realize so many other sides of it. It is workable, it’s feasible.”
In addition to growing up and now working in Ghana, John spent a period of his studies in London. This continued to diversify his mindset and enrich his worldview.
You have so much to share: you leverage on your local setting, your local upbringing, and all the environment. And then you look at how you can have an integrated approach to make a change.
His time abroad allowed him to see the added value of studying in a foreign context: “Living in a country like Ghana, a wonderful place with diverse people, several languages, several ethnic groups, ideologies, and traditional religion, one would think that living there you’d have everything. But coming to the U.K., a further diverse society, taught me how to bring my country back to where it’s supposed to be and see some things that I wasn’t seeing at the local level.”
Outside of work John spends much of his time reading and discovering the lives of influential leaders, both past and present. This quest for lifelong learning is at the core of the ITCILO’s values and goals.
He passionately shared his curiosity about political figures: “I really want to see the decisions they took, the positions they held, how they carried themselves out, and how they made an impact. Leadership is about choices. The choices they made and the consequences that they face.”
The thoughts on leadership led him to reflect upon the power of collectivity, especially when it comes to confronting global warming and protecting our Earth.
The world will be a better place with all these things we are learning. In a cohesive and integrated manner we may eradicate poverty and disease. There is a need for everybody to cooperate.
Currently the world is faced with numerous issues to resolve yet he believes the impending threat of natural disasters is major. Global awareness and cooperation are key, and they begin with intercultural trainings like this one.