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Millions of Kenyans Cannot Afford to Retire 


The financial services firm, Alexander Forbes, said more than 40 percent of Kenyans cannot afford to retire and must continue working. The new report shows that another 40 percent rely on family for support. The survey paints a sad picture for of Kenya’s ability to care for its growing aging population.

65-year-old Domnic Ologi runs a tap water kiosk. He spent three decades working in the public and private sector. He stopped working 10 years ago, but he is one of millions of Kenyans who can't afford to retire. "During this times, I had a lot of times in my hands and to supplement what my wife was bringing in I looked at my environment, what my environment was lacking at that time,” he recalled.

Ologi, like many Kenyans, has no savings of his own for retirement. He gets 7,500 shillings, about $75, a month from his state pension.

Alexander Forbes administers financial and retirement funds in the region. The South-Africa-based firm said Kenya has the lowest mandated pension contributions on the continent, just 10 percent of income.

The head of Kenya’s Retirement Benefit Authority, Edward Odundo, said workers need to save more. "If you know you are retiring, you should be able to get at least 40 percent of what you used to earn,” he said. “But if you are getting less than 10 percent, it shows you have got a very big deficit just even in the basics.”

National Social Security covers most Kenyan workers, but the scheme is plagued by corruption and management issues. Officials say contributions are low and thus payouts are low.

Workers are resisting efforts by the government to increase the monthly contribution to 12 percent, half from the employer and the other half from the employee.

Forbes said nearly half of retired Kenyans depend on family members to survive.

Wasonga Jacob, 22-years-old, said he doesn’t have a problem supporting his parents.
"Its nature in us as human beings to support and give back where we came back from, because look at it from this angle, they’ve taken care of you since you were young up to now taking you to school. So literally it's socially acceptable or socially moral to give back to mum and dad,” he explained.

However, 27-year-old Faith Mutisya said it is a burden. “I get it a bit hard because staying here in Nairobi, [it] is not cheap when it also comes to rent, and you are paying all that pension for me. I pay for three people, [it] is not easy,” she said.

The World Health Organization said Kenyans are living longer than they did 20 years ago. That combined with the ongoing population boom in Africa means pressures on the state to provide for the elderly will likely only intensify.

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