Extending access to social protection and portability of benefits to migrant workers and their families in selected RECs in Africa

The overall objective of the project is to extend decent work and social protection to migrant workers and their families, by strengthening the Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) capacities to conclude and implement regional frameworks that extend social protection to migrant workers and their families and coordinate the portability of their social security benefits.

Social security is a basic human right enshrined in major international instruments. It is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, which recognizes the role social protection plays in achieving sustainable development and leaving no one behind.

However, migrant workers face significant challenges accessing social protection. This is due to the particularity of their circumstances such as the length of their periods of employment and residence, their status as non-nationals, as well as their immigrant status. They risk the loss of entitlement to social security benefits in their country of origin due to their absence, and may at the same time encounter restrictive conditions under the social protection system of the host country. Moreover, their dependents often remain excluded from health care provisions, even when migrant workers are covered during their employment period by the host social protection system.

Extending social security access and portability to migrant workers and their families would realize numerous global and continental priorities. Establishing and strengthening social protection systems, including floors in migrants’ countries of origin contributes to reducing poverty and inequalities and facilitates the return and reintegration of migrants, while respecting their human right to social security and a life in dignity.


ECOWAS: Enhancing the implementation of ECOWAS General Convention on Social Security by ECOWAS Member States.

  • Support the establishment and effective functioning of the Committee of Experts for the ECOWAS General Convention (CESS). The CESS is a critical organ for supporting and monitoring the implementation of the ECOWAS General Convention;
  • Facilitation of annual technical and coordination meetings for representatives of social protection schemes and other relevant stakeholders on the implementation modalities of the ECOWAS General Convention;
  • Assess the feasibility to extend social protection coverage to migrant workers in the informal economy and develop and test concrete policy proposals for such extension.
SADC: Strengthening SADC’s capacity and policy instruments on social security, including portability of social security rights.
  • Assessment of existing social protection access and portability provisions for formal and informal migrant workers in SADC, inform the development of suitable coordination mechanisms, administrative arrangements and management systems to support the portability of social security benefits within the sub region;
  • Facilitation of tripartite technical and consultation meetings on the implementation of SADC social security policy instruments;
  • Support the implementation of the SADC policy framework in selected pilot occupational areas and countries. 
East African Community: Enhancing EAC’s capacity to advance the regional coordination and protection framework to improve access to social protection for migrant workers; and building on the achievements of previous ILO projects, in particular MISGEC: 
  • Support feasibility studies, including on actuarial and financial assessments, of the implications of an EAC multilateral social protection instrument. This will inform the revision and finalization on the draft EAC Council Directive on the Coordination of social Security benefits;
  • Facilitate regional dialogue and consultations to revise and finalize the Draft EAC Council Directive on the Coordination of social Security benefits within the EAC Common Market;
  • Provide legal and actuarial advisory services to EAC Partner States in support of coordinating the portability of social security benefits.

African Union Commission: Improving capacity of the AUC, RECs and regional social partners to coordinate and contribute to social protection programmes for migrant workers in both the formal and informal economy:
  • Support of the AUC to promote south-south and intra-RECs technical cooperation on social protection for migrant workers;
  • Capacity building of AUC, selected RECs staff as well as regional and sub-regional social partners on social protection and labour migration issues;
  • Support the systematic collection and analysis of statistical information to inform policy-making and the monitoring of progress made towards the achievement of relevant SDG targets and AU Agenda 2063.