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By Daniel Agyen-Tweneboah

“Stephen, can you give me 2 more years’ contract so that I can wrap up and retire?” That was a request from a Ghanaian expatriate working within the UN cycles few months to his retirement date. That was to paraphrase what the employee told Prof. Stephen Adei when he was the head of the UN Bureau in New York.

“Manager, things are not cool at home, can you talk to management to give me some contract work after retirement”. I believe a couple of Human Resources (HR) practitioners and corporate leaders or managers have heard and felt similar sentiments when the clock is ticking for employees who are nearing retirement in Ghana. When you don’t help, then you could be seen as callous. Come to think of it, after you have worked for 15 to 35 years in corporate and you find it difficult to bow out and rather request additional 1-2 years to wrap up, are you worth considering?

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In a rather extreme but common occurrence in Ghana, HR people get surprises from some employees just one year or two years to retirement – “The date of birth on my personal records is wrong, and I want to correct it. Instead of 1951, I was born in 1952 …” Some will even go like “… instead of 1957, I was born in 1959.” Sometimes, you just laugh.

On the other hand, I have had colleagues who have come to me, discussed and just tabled early retirement notices. When you face such an experience, you cannot help but be wowed into concluding – this is a purpose-driven working life!

Section 59 of Ghana’s National Pension Act 2008 (Act 766 as amended by Act 883) allows any person aged 15 years to join the Social Security Scheme, but you cannot join after age 45. However, per Section 70 of Act 766 and Article 199 (1) of the 1992 Constitution the compulsory and voluntary retirement age is 60 and 55 years respectively. This applies to all workers in the private sector, civil and public services except other categories of workers where there are existing Constitutional or statutory extensions. For instance, when you flip over to Article 145 of the Constitution, a Judge of the Superior Court and a Chairman of a Regional Tribunal has 70 years and 65 years respectively to retire.

As an obiter, from Constitutional perspective (Article 199(2)) you can even retire at age 45 in Ghana! Once you have Social Security contributions of a minimum of 15 years (i.e. 180 months aggregated) in line with Section 76 of Act 766, then you would be entitled to pension pay, albeit in a reduced manner.

Justice cannot be done to any discussion on the retirement cap age of a nation without consideration to the issue of life expectancy.  According to available data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the global average life expectancy is 72.0 years whilst that of Africa is 61.2 years.  When you compare life expectancy at birth rates to corresponding retirement ages in some selected countries, it is insightful:


Selected Country *Life Expectancy (years) Retirement Age (Years)
Ghana 63.4 60
South Africa 63.6 60
Nigeria 55.2 60
Côte d’ Ivoire 54.6 60
Australia 82.9 65.5 (not fixed)
Canada 82.8 65
Japan 84.2 62
USA 78.5 62 – 67
China 76.4 55 (female), 60 (male)
France 82.9 62 – 67
UK 81.4 65
Russia 71.9 55 (female), 60 (male)


*Source: 2018 World Health Statistics, WHO.

Methinks that a nation’s maximum retirement age should be correlating with its life expectancy amongst other standards of living measurements. The World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2016/17 recommended that employees should continue working until age 70 in nations such as the UK, US, Japan and Canada because the number of people over 65 years will more than triple to 2.1 billion by 2050.

The irony in the world of work in our part of the world is that we start our careers with the view of working towards a decent retirement income or property, but when retirement docks we wish we were just starting out.

Do you think Ghana should increase the retirement age above 60 years? You may share your thoughts after reading this write-up …

The concluding part of this piece follows in the next edition titled: “Retiring early: the fears and joy!”

 Daniel may be contacted with comments on