W orld Investment News (WI): Can you provide an overview of the pension schemes in Ghana? (HAK): In Ghana, we operate a three-tier pension system. We have the basic national social security scheme, which is mandatory and managed by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the main institution in the country that takes care of 11 per cent of the workers’ basic salary. Then, we have a second tier which manages 5 per cent of the workers own contribution. The first 11 per cent is paid by the employer and the second 5 per cent is paid by the worker. There’s also 2 per cent retention that comes from the employer and goes into the national insurance scheme. Finally, there is tier three which is voluntary and can be a personal pension or provident fund and the beneficiaries can contribute with up to 16 per cent of their salary. All these retentions can add up to 35 per cent of tax-free funds. Eighty-five per cent of our economy belongs to the informal sector that does not have a regular monthly income but is allowed to legally contribute, with up to 35 per cent of their income, to a pension fund. We have 34 corporate trustees, we have a number of public sector schemes and last year, we were able to transfer the temporary fund we were managing into the various existing schemes. Since almost everybody has a phone and we gain access to about 9 million Ghanaians who have a mobile, we have two corporate trustees who are using the mobile money system for the collection and they have been incredibly successful. ( WI): What do you want to tell the international community about your vision and priorities to position yourselves as an efficient model for administration of social protection schemes in Africa? (HAK): Our message to the international community is that when pensions are contributed between tier 1,2 and 3, we have total funds of about GHC $21 billion (HK$3.1 million) in pensions. We look at the international community and investors when we decide how to invest the money available from the funds. In Ghana, we have the funds and the appropriate investment guidelines that we operate within. We allow 60 per cent of all pensions funds to be in government securities, and then we have what we call “local government securities”. For example, the biggest cocoa purchasing company, which is the Produce Buying Company (PBC), bought cocoa on behalf of the Ghana Cocoa Board recently. The funds needed for this purchase were provided by collaborating with us. We also have what we call “corporate debt”. This means that, any company that wants to engage in housing infrastructure projects in Ghana, can make use of mortgaged backed securities to access pension funds to have enough resources to build the houses and then, sell them back to contributors. This is something that we are looking to strongly develop in 2019. So, any investor coming to the country that wants to go into housing infrastructure, is welcomed and will be able to apply for funding available. Another area that we want to develop is private equity. We also support investors who want to participate in road and railway infrastructure. Overall, pension funds are ready to be used to promote development within our permissible investment areas. (WI): What final message of confidence do you wish to extend to our readers, and why is now the time to invest in Ghana? (HAK): This is the best time to invest in Ghana. We have a government that is really forward looking and that is focused on the long-term development of the country. If there’s ever been a time to invest in Ghana, it is now and we would encourage investors to come in. So, any investor looking at where to invest in Africa should be looking at Ghana, especially in regards to pension funds. In Ghana, we have one of the fastest growing pension funds. For example, in an eight-year period we have been able to grow pension funds up to GHC $21 billion and we are looking for areas to invest with the available pension funds.