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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Can you survive on your pension?
Elderly woman
Headlines talk of pension scandals around the world including Africa but as populations get older, does the future for Africa's aged have to be bleak?

The UN says that in 50 years time, the number of people over the age of 60 in Africa will have increased five-fold, from 40m to 205m.

South Africa, Namibia and Botswana are the only three countries in sub-Saharan Africa that provide a universal pension - a scheme not linked to work.

However pensions are starting to creep up governments' agenda. A month ago, ministers from 13 East and southern African countries adopted the Livingstone call for action to make social protection such as pensions an absolute right.

Are you a pensioner? Did you have to wait for years? Or did you receive your pension without a problem? What do you spend your pension on? Are you saving for your old age?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Although we are poor my father is spending his pension on house construction. Meanwhile, I can spend a whole day without eating. I go to school on foot.
Ngomdum Marcel, Douala, Cameroon

I hope it works, but in the meantime, I'll just save up on the side by myself
Anonymous Nigerian, UK
My mum is a state pensioner, she's paid once every 3 months if she is lucky. So, mum does not rely on her pension, she relies on her children. That's what we are here for. The best thing this government has done is to take itself out of the equation and put the burden of pensions management on the private sector. That means it's compulsory to save for your pension and there's a bit of hope somewhere. I hope it works, but in the meantime....I'll just save up on the side by myself.
Anonymous Nigerian, UK

I am 71 years old and fortunately for me I can live on my pension. I am a retired primary school teacher. I taught for 51 years in one of the Northern states of Nigeria. After retirement I received my pension from the government without any problem. I got it within seven years of retirement. I spend my pension money on taking care of myself and my 65 year old wife. I also invested a part of it in a small factory producing roasted groundnut cakes. This also keeps me busy and brings in some money.
Adamu Mohammed, Jos, Nigeria

I am a Kenyan student and I have lived in Australia for four years. One thing I have come to appreciate about the pension system here is that it helps the aged for a long time as opposed to the Kenyan system of pension. Here you get money until you die, it comes mainly from taxes, and is not work pension.
Krisofiso, Sydney, Australia

No matter how much we earn, we human beings are never satisfied with how much we have, and so will never be content with our pensions.
Azu Solomon, Maroua, Cameroon

In an age when changing jobs is a necessary practice, the schemes are long outdated..
Artur Freitas, South Africa
The pension schemes in South Africa are linked to the company one works for and when one changes job one loses benefits. In an age when changing jobs is a good and necessary practice, the schemes are long outdated.
Artur Freitas, Johannesburg, South Africa

In my country, government workers do not even bag enough money at the end of the month to keep their families, let alone rely on their old age or retirement pension. As a teacher, I am not going to depend on a pension, instead I am looking for alternatives to help me survive during my old age.
Joseph P. Abu, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Once one retires here in Kenya, one is given lump sum pension. Some mistake this to be a windfall and spend the whole amount over a short period. I think now is a good time for a scheme to be put in place so that pensioners can withdraw their pension monthly. If one dies before the funds are exhausted, the money will pass to the closest relative. This will ensure that our old men and women are taken care of.
Enock Maturwe, Nairobi, Kenya

A lot of our African elders live in rural areas with no pension plans. They rely on the traditional form of old age insurance - children. Some pensioners in the urban areas find it difficult to survive on their pensions and return to the rural areas in order to subsidise their income through farming.
Togbe Agbeduvi, Accra, Ghana

I have another job so I can save the money I get from my pension
Talib Kolo, Nigeria
I am 36 years old and a pensioner since my retirement from the Nigerian Navy two years ago. Unlike my father who retired as a senior civil servant years back and had to wait for a while before collecting his pension, mine was almost immediate. Because at the moment I have another job, I can save the money I get from my pension. Here in Nigeria, there is a new phenomenon of 'young' pensioners like myself, some of us are engaged in other jobs while some are self employed.
Talib Kolo, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Pensioners die in the pensions queue all the time in Nigeria and nobody seems to care. In Abuja, pensioners are seen on the streets begging for alms and it is now a normal sight to see them lying dead on the streets. The government seems to be doing nothing about this matter.
George Onmonya Daniel, Abuja, Nigeria

When you visit the secretariat, you see very old men and women begging for money
Ikiriko Fustina, Nigeria
My father is a pensioner who retired in 1999. He is still struggling to get his state pension which hasn't been paid, after 35 years of service to the nation. It is so bad that when you visit the secretariat, you see very old men and women begging for money. It is really heartbreaking to see them loose their self respect and be brought so low in this country.
Ikiriko Fustina, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

After working in the Civil Service in Kenya for more than 30 years, my mother's monthly pension is Kshs 1,613 which equates to $21.50. Fortunately, I am able to send her money from London to supplement this. If I was not able to, I do not want to imagine what would have happened to her.
Isabel Olembo, London, UK

She is happy because she feels she has not done anything to deserve the money
Malebogo Lebotse, Botswana

My grandmother has been getting her non means tested pension of 166 Pula (roughly $25) a month and she is happy because she feels she has not done anything to deserve the money. We have tried to convince her that its a social benefit but not payment. On her pay day, we always have full chicken for dinner and bread the following morning!
Malebogo Lebotse, Gaborone, Botswana

This is a very serious worldwide crisis. African governments especially, need to start introducing new reforms & strategies now, to restructure their Pension industry and therefore ensure that every citizen will receive a basic state pension regardless of their tribe, religion or working history.
Arthur Ngoka, Wimbledon, England

My Uncle died recently on a motor accident after having to travel 800km to collect his pension. Similar accidents abound throughout the nation.
Tony, Lagos, Nigeria

Lots of people wanted my father to give them money before they'd process his papers
I hope that I can make a lot of money and save for the future. I would not want to go through what my father did after serving the nation for so long. When he tried to collect his pension, lots of people wanted him to give them money before they'd process his papers.

Pensions, especially in African countries are hardly enough to sustain someone's daily needs. The only possible solution is to invest in long term assets like property or stocks and shares when you are still working.
Rono Peter, Nairobi, Kenya

My mum died shortly after receiving her first payment
Chanda Chellah, Zambia
Both my parents had jobs with pensions. The paperwork for them to start receiving their monthly entitlements took so long that my mum died shortly after receiving her first payment. Seeing the problems that the older generation has had to endure, most people in my generation prefer three year renewable contract jobs so that one can draw their gratuity after three years and make an investment.
Chanda Chellah, Lusaka, Zambia

How can people survive on their pension when those still working cannot survive on their regular pay cheques? It is just terrible that we are turning our old people into glorified beggars.
Peter Kalu-Obuba, Canada


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