Pensions industry progress underway

Pensions industry progress underway

Regulators are reviewing legislation, governments are experimenting with unique solutions such as micro-pensions, asset allocations are changing to allow for greater long-term growth and across the continent, the high rate of mobile penetration is being viewed as a significant opportunity to innovate.

The latest Bright Africa Pensions research highlights how African demographics are evolving and the impact of this on long-term savings. There is no doubt that Africa’s population is and will remain the world’s largest youthful cohort for a long-time to come, so serious thought, planning and innovation are urgently required to address the risk of individuals outliving their retirement savings.

Research conducted by Albouy and Nogues (2019) shows that globally, life expectancy measured at age 65, has grown from 13.3 years in 1970-1975 to 16.6 years in 2010-2015 and is expected to reach 21.8 years in 2095-2100. Africa is also ageing, though at different paces depending on the region. The estimates for the elderly (continent-wide) are astounding.

Estimated at 13.1 million people aged 65 or more in 1975, this figure increased to 41.3 million people in 2015 and is expected to reach 150.6 million people in 2050 and 652.4 million people in 2100. It is critical for savings to take place for this cohort and more importantly, for savings to sustainably grow in tandem with this inevitable demographic transition.

We have also looked at how long-term pools of savings are growing and transitioning their asset allocations to attune to the ever-changing social and economic environment. African pension funds are the largest pool of institutional capital on the continent, with an estimated AUM of approximately USD 350bn. Although slow, we are witnessing a progressive rebalancing of long-term savings away from domestic fixed income to equities and alternative investments.

The rebalancing of asset allocations is taking places as a result of sensible reforms underway by a number of pensions and social security regulators, in consultation with capital market authorities. As Africa (along with the result of the world) charts a way forward post-COVID-19, a common narrative across many African countries is the awareness that current pensions policy and regulation need to modernise to future-proof long-term savings, particularly because of changing demographics.