Globally, as the war on Ukraine rages on and global inflation continues soaring, the world is likely to be plunged into yet another crisis; a shortage of food.
Ukraine’s main route for shipment of grain through the black sea was blockaded by Russia. Ukraine alone accounts for 10% and 14% of global supply of wheat and corn, respectively. In 2019, Russia and Ukraine exported more than a quarter of the world’s wheat supply, according to OEC (Observatory of Economic Complexity). Russia and Belarus account for 40% of the world’s potash (fertilizer potassium), which is a key agricultural input, especially for large-scale agricultural production.
In Uganda, less food production due to a prolonged dry season in many parts of the country may escalate the hunger situation in the country. Already there is a serious famine in Karamoja, Northeast Uganda, where scores of people have been reported dead due to lack of food. It is estimated that 41% of Karamoja is at risk of food insecurity.
The combined effect of limited supply of oil and gas, and food, is likely to push the global inflation to unprecedented levels. This will cause hunger and starvation, especially in low-income countries, and the global economic growth is likely to be slowed down.
Regional conflicts, particularly in the DRC, are likely to persist. This, coupled with rising inflation, is likely to affect regional economic growth. Regional markets are also expected to remain volatile
Given a volatile outlook, as described above, the risk of cyber-attack is likely to increase. It is common to see an increase in criminal activity during periods of crisis. For instance, during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020, malware and ransomware increased by 358% and 435% respectively, according to World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022.
The effects of environment degradation are no longer a myth but a reality. Environmental degradation has led to climate change, which manifests itself through an increase in global temperature (global warning), high winds (cyclones, tornados, hurricanes, and typhoons), and heavy rainfall, causing flooding.
These pose a significant risk to both property and human life. From a business perspective, extreme weather conditions affect employee productivity, extreme temperatures increase vehicle tyre wear and tear (depreciation), flooding causes disruption to business operations, and in extreme cases leads to loss of business property, to mention but a few.
These challenges are expected to escalate in the future as human activities continue to exert pressure on the environment. Given the international focus on Sustainability (and ESG) risks, several organisations identify this as an emerging risk while others have included it in their risk profiles/top 10 risks. Businesses all over the world are facing increasing expectations from stakeholders to create sustainable, long-term value.
Multiple standard setters/regulators are signalling possible new disclosure requirements, whereby companies will be required to disclose material information about all significant sustainability-related risks and opportunities.
The NSSF is aware of these dynamics and has taken steps to ensure that it is able to respond to the evolving risks in the dynamic environment. Such steps include:
The Fund has put in place cost optimisation measures to minimise the effects of inflation on its profitability.
About five years ago, the Fund embarked on a digitisation programme that has seen fund-wide automation of business processes, including introduction of various customer service Apps such NSSF GO mobile application and NSSF GO web application.
As mentioned above, the Fund upgraded its core systems and introduced a new pension system (OctoPAS), as well as robotic process automation.
During the FY 2021/22, the Fund embarked on organisational redesign, to create an organisation that is lean and highly agile, to respond to the changes in the environment.
The Fund offers excellent opportunities for its employees to continuously learn and develop themselves. The training and development programme includes leadership training at some of the best institutions in the region, such Strathmore Business School, Kenya, and Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa.
Besides sponsorship for professional training, the Fund provides an Online learning platform (Percipio) to enable staff to access some of the best courses around the world, without having to incur the huge costs of physical attendance.
A reskilling programme has also been introduced to enable staff acquire new skills that are relevant to the new realities in the Fund.
During the FY, the Fund upgraded its storage capacity and compute power at the disaster recovery site.
Regular training and sensitisation of staff are conducted to enable them to identify suspected social engineering attacks and report them to the security team for immediate action.
We also undertake regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to identify system vulnerabilities and proactively address them.
An Artificial Intelligence Powered Endpoint detection and response solution that automatically detects and responds to cyber-attacks has been implemented, to enable the Fund to respond to modern-day-attacks by malicious actors.