My passion to help workers retire decently
I have served in pension administration for three decades and I have had an opportunity to see the various successes and challenges faced by social security institutions around the world. I have also seen the challenges faced by social security institutions in Zambia and the National Pension Scheme Authority in particular.
One of the issues that gives me sleepless nights is the time it takes to pay our members their benefits. This is with the understanding that this is within our control to change, unlike the level of the benefits. Sometimes it is unnecessarily long and I want to change that.
I am a firm believer that we can do better in this aspect and help our members to get their benefits without having to wait for long periods.
I want to leave a legacy where members get their claims processed in record time. I want every member of staff to know that behind every claim there are faces of people, some of them old, others sick while some are orphans and others are widows and widowers. Therefore, regardless of one’s work; be it member registration, claim processing, card issuance, excellent customer service and timely claim processing will be my rallying call as I continue to lead this organisation.
What are we doing to improve service delivery?
First of all, we have very good national guiding principles as espoused in the Seventh National Development Plan. As an institution we have a robust strategic plan where we have laid out our plans for the future. These plans provide us with direction into the future. But these are just documents and plans which, by themselves, can’t deliver excellent customer service. We must do something, and we are doing something about this by ensuring that the strategic plan is translated into initiatives and activities that are being undertaken by each and every employee.
Secondly, we have an excellent team of staff who wake up daily to provide a dedicated service to our members. We have some of the most educated men and women in the country. However, we still get some complaints regarding the service level. We are fixing this too through continuous training and mentorship. We are monitoring individual performance of all employees and helping those that need help. We are creating a working environment where any employee can excel, and when they excel we reward them.
I know that working with a workforce of over 650 employees and about 29 stations across the country is not easy because of the complicated processes that are associated with pension administration. We can’t afford to have a situation where our information technology systems can’t speak to each other. We need a smart solution not only from our perspective but form the members’ perspective as well. Our members should be able to say yes your systems are working by not only receiving timely services, but correct ones for that matter. Does it help to receive a wrong payment in a timely manner? No it doesn’t. we have to be thorough in our work.
So In 2012, we began the implementation of the NAPSA Integrated System (NIS) which sought to streamline all NAPSA work processes onto the online platform. Then we implemented the flagship eNAPSA that has just changed the way our members and employers transact with us remotely. This is a game changer. Are we happy with this achievement? Yes, we are. Have we achieved our objective? No, we haven’t. Our continuous evaluation shows that we still have work to do. What is gratifying however is that we are on the right track.
What does the future hold for us?
I am absolutely certain that the future is very bright. It is bright because we know what we stand for through our clear mandate and strategic focus. The future is bright because we will see more and more people from the informal sector joining the scheme and being secured as a result of the new law which allows us to provide more and flexible benefits to the friends in the informal sector.
This law that has opened doors to small scale farmers, bus and taxi drivers, marketeers and traders among others is one of the best things that have happened to the informal sector in Zambia. It is a new page into the new era of social security in Zambia.
For this to be a success, we will continue to innovate and ensure that all systems to support the implementation of the law and benefit package are put in place to easy registration and compliance. We will make web and mobile platforms the new normal to allow our services to be accessed from anywhere.
As we do all this, we know that machines can’t replace people. Therefore, we will make ourselves available to our customers to provide all the services that you need with the ICARE as our guiding principle and quality and efficiency as our motto.