Few workers in East Africa have a pension cover

Saturday March 07 2020

A garments factory at an export processing zone in Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Kenya has the highest pension coverage in the region, even though about 80 per cent of the country’s labour force is in the informal sector.

There are more than 1,287 registered retirement benefits schemes, with over 1.7 million members in the country. However, data from the Retirements Benefits Authority (RBA) shows that coverage is still low.

“Pension coverage had risen to around 22 per cent of the labour force at the end of 2019, from 20 per cent in 2018. This affirms that we are well on our way towards achieving our strategic plan objective of increasing pension coverage to 30 per cent of the labour force by 2024,” said RBA’s chief executive Nzomo Mutuku.

“Retirement benefits assets increased from Ksh1.16 trillion ($11.6 billion) in December 2018 to Ksh1.32 trillion ($13.2 billion) in December 2019, despite a number of economic shocks during the year,” he added.

The EAC Common Market Protocol recognises the need for partner states to “co-ordinate and harmonise their social policies to promote and protect decent work and improve the living conditions of the citizens for the development of the Common Market”.

In Kenya, over 3.2 million people are registered in some form of pension scheme. In Uganda, pension schemes cover just under two million people, and in Tanzania the case is not much different with 2.1 million workers covered.


In Rwanda there are 40 schemes, but by 2018 only 12 were registered with the National Bank of Rwanda. With most workers in the informal sector, only about one per cent are saving for retirement.

Burundi has a mandatory pension scheme for formal sector employees.