Uganda’s pension market experiences significant growth with total assets climbing from Ush17.8 trillion ($4.8 billion) to Ush19.9 trillion ($5.2 billion) in just one year. National Social Security Fund (NSSF) dominates the industry, handling over Ush17 trillion ($4.5 billion) of the industry’s assets, while private fund managers control assets worth less than Ush3 trillion ($801 million). The increase in benefit payouts is driven by a small group of contributors leaving pension schemes, with recent retirees receiving lump sum payments totaling more than Ush250 million ($66,724) each from multiple retirement benefit plans.
In the wake of Covid-19 lockdown measures and with rising demand for short-term access to pension money, growth in assets, investment portfolios, and benefit payments defined the health of Uganda’s pension market.
The total assets of the sector climbed from Ush17.8 trillion ($4.8 billion) in 2020–2021 to Ush19.9 trillion ($5.2 billion) in 2021–2022 according to the most recent statistics provided by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority.
Private fund managers controlled assets worth less than Ush3 trillion ($801 million), while the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) handled the majority of industry assets worth more than Ush17 trillion ($4.5 billion).
Similar increases were seen in the industry’s investment portfolio, which increased from Ush17.9 trillion ($4.7 billion) in 2020–21 to Ush19.5 trillion ($5 billion) in 202–21.
The minor growth in member contributions is attributed to savers’ growing desire for mid-term access benefits, while the significant increase in benefits payouts is attributed to a small group of contributors who are leaving pension schemes and have substantial funds. The NSSF Act has recently changed to provide mid-term access benefits equal to 20% of a contributor’s total savings.
According to the modified NSSF Act of 2021, eligible donors must be above 45 and have been regular savers with the Fund for at least 10 years. Since the Fund began making payments for mid-term access benefits in 2022, more than Ush300 billion ($80 million) has been distributed.
Recent retirees allegedly took money in lump sums from several retirement benefit plans totaling more than Ush250 million ($66,724) for each member in their pension savings.
“Many companies laid off staff, cut pay, and scaled-down operations during the Covid-19 lockdown. But most of the affected businesses have since recovered from the lockdown effects and have added some jobs to their operations and restored salaries,” said Simon Mwebaze, Chief Executive Officer at UAP-Old Mutual Financial Services Uganda.
“Many NGOs opted for pension schemes for their staff instead of paying gratuity alone and are also complying with new rules requiring employees to board NSSF,” said Patrick Sempijja, of ICEA Lion Investment Management Services Ltd.