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Concept Note

  • Theme: “Better Together”: Building A Socially Secure Future
  • Venue and Date: Cape Town International Convention Centre, 7-8 October 2024.
  • Objective: The 2024 conference aims to forge a united front in the African retirement sector, bringing together private sector service providers, retirement funds, regulators, educators and government officials. The focus is on creating synergistic and cohesive strategies which will enhance retirement outcomes and thereby contribute to the economic and social well-being of the continent. A review of international developments/practices with a focus on South African developments and how this is aligned with these developments and what can be learnt from these outcomes. The theme “Better Together” encapsulates the spirit of collaboration and collective intelligence which can and will drive innovative solutions for the complex challenges in the retirement sector.


  • IRFA’s Role: The Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) continues to be a beacon of excellence and leadership in the African retirement sector. With its commitment to advocacy, the dissemination of critical information, and education, IRFA plays a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of the industry. Building upon the successful foundations laid in previous conferences, the 2024 conference is set to further this legacy. It will highlight the importance of collaborative efforts between the private and public sectors, focusing on harmonising processes to create robust, sustainable retirement systems.
  • Evolution of the Conference: Reflecting on the insights and milestones achieved in the 2022 and 2023 conferences, the upcoming event will delve deeper into the integration of private sector initiatives with supportive regulatory environments. It aims to tackle current challenges while predicting future trends, ensuring that the African retirement sector remains agile and responsive to the needs of its diverse stakeholders.


Building on the themes of previous IRFA conferences, the 2024 conference represents a continuum in the evolution of retirement sector discussions and learnings. Starting with the focus on “Social Development: Partnering for Change” in 2017, the narrative has progressively embraced crucial aspects of the retirement industry. In 2018, the theme “Reaching out for Financial Security and Freedom” highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships for financial literacy and quality retirement lifestyles. By 2021, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the theme underscored the urgent need for the retirement sector to address broader societal challenges like health crises, climate change, and social injustice. The following year, “A Decade of Retirement Reform: Taking Stock, Shaping the Future” focused on evaluating past reforms and preparing for future challenges, emphasising operational, policy, and regulatory aspects. In 2023, the theme “Making it Happen: Governance and Leadership of Retirement Funds” delved into effective governance and leadership in adapting to regulatory changes and contributing to socio-economic development.

The “Better Together” theme, informed by our collective experience, acknowledges the power of unity in enhancing the retirement sector’s efficacy. It is a principle that has been tangibly demonstrated through our shared histories, where collaborative efforts have consistently yielded more resilient and innovative outcomes than isolated endeavours. Our lived experiences, ranging from navigating the complexities of global financial crises to the more recent challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, have shown us that the pooling of resources, expertise, and visions can lead to more robust solutions that benefit all. In Africa, where communal values are deeply ingrained, this theme resonates particularly strongly, reflecting an inherent understanding that collective action is not only a cultural tenet but also a strategic advantage in the face of adversity and change. The conference will celebrate these shared experiences, drawing lessons from our past to fortify our future endeavours in creating a socially secure future.

The 2024 theme, “Better Together,” builds on these foundations, encapsulating the essence of collaboration and unity across the retirement sector. It emphasizes the collective effort of stakeholders in navigating the evolving landscape of retirement funds, reinforcing the importance of cohesive action for achieving sustainable and inclusive retirement outcomes. This progression of themes reflects a deepening and broadening of the discourse, integrating learnings from past years to shape a future where collaborative efforts are key to enhancing the retirement sector’s impact.


  • Synergy in Retirement Sector: The conference theme, “Better Together,” underlines the necessity of a united approach in tackling the multifaceted challenges of the retirement sector in South Africa and across the continent. Whilst also being cognisant of global trends and learnings. It recognises that pension schemes, when supported by conducive governmental policies and effective regulation, can significantly enhance the quality and reach of retirement services. The dynamic synergy is not just beneficial but essential in a landscape marked by diverse economic and demographic challenges.
  • Shared Learning and Innovation: A key feature of the conference will be its emphasis on shared learning and the cross-pollination of ideas. Delegates will have the opportunity to engage in discussions about ground-breaking practices, technological advancements, and strategic insights from different corners of the continent and beyond. We anticipate the exchange of knowledge will not only inspire but also equip participants with practical tools and strategies to implement in their respective endeavours.


  1. Policy and Advocacy: A significant portion of the conference will be dedicated to examining how policy-making and advocacy can facilitate the growth and effectiveness of retirement schemes.

Discussions will revolve around creating regulatory environments that encourages innovation while ensuring security and fairness for all stakeholders.

  1. Retirement Sector Innovation: The conference will showcase best practice solutions emerging from the retirement sector.

These practices includes new financial products, technological tools, and management strategies that have the potential to revolutionise pension management and delivery.

  1. Capacity Building: Recognising the importance of continuous learning and development, the conference outcomes will offer tailored training sessions, workshops, and seminars.

These sessions will focus on enhancing the skills and knowledge of those professionals involved in private sector retirement service provision, ensuring they are well-equipped to meet the evolving demands of the industry.


  • Public-Private Partnerships (SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals): The segment will explore the potential and best practices of public-private partnerships in the retirement sector. Discussions will focus on how these alliances can be leveraged to enhance the efficiency and reach of private pension schemes, contributing to broader economic stability and growth.
  • Regulatory Support and Frameworks (SDG 16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions): A key topic will be the exploration of how robust and transparent regulatory frameworks can underpin the growth and stability pension schemes. The process will include discussions on governance, risk management, and compliance standards that safeguard the interests of all stakeholders.
  • Investment Strategies for Inclusion (SDG 1 – No Poverty, SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities): The focal point will be on investment strategies that are aligned with social objectives, such as government-supported supplemental schemes for lower-income groups. The aim is to discuss how private pension funds can contribute to reducing poverty and inequality through focused investment strategies.
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing (Social Equity (SDG 10), Environmental Stewardship (SDG 13 & 15), Governance and Ethics (SDG 16): The conference will delve into the growing importance of ESG within the pension fund industry. It will explore how integrating ESG criteria into decisions can lead to sustainable outcomes, aligning retirement fund investments and other activities with broader social, environmental and governance goals.


  • Interactive Format: A variety of interactive formats, including panel discussions, roundtables, and breakaway sessions, will be employed to ensure a dynamic and engaging conference experience.

These sessions are designed to facilitate rich dialogues, idea sharing, and problem-solving among delegates. Networking events and social gatherings will also provide opportunities for participants to forge new connections and strengthen existing ones. These actions are geared at fostering a community of practice that extends beyond the duration of the conference.


  • The conference will make a concerted effort to ensure that it represents a broad spectrum of viewpoints and experiences. These will include securing a diverse range of speakers and panellists from different regions, genders, and professional backgrounds.

By so doing, the conference aims to enrich the discourse and ensure that the strategies and solutions discussed are inclusive and applicable across the diverse landscape of the African retirement sector.


  • A dedicated segment of the conference will focus on showcasing the latest technological advancements in the field of pension management. These will include digital tools for fund administration, member engagement, and data analytics.

These technological showcases will not only highlight current innovations but also spark discussions on how technology can be harnessed to improve efficiency, transparency, and member experiences in the retirement sector.


  • Role of Retirement Funds in Societal Development: The conference will explore the wider role that retirement funds play in societal development. These dynamics include their potential to contribute to various Sustainable Development Goals through responsible investing and community engagement initiatives.

 Sessions will highlight successful case studies where pension funds have made a tangible impact on societal issues, providing inspiration and practical insights for other funds looking to enhance their social responsibility efforts.


  • Actionable Insights and Continued Collaboration: The conference is designed not only to inspire but also to equip participants with actionable insights that can be implemented in their organisations. Follow-up sessions and collaborative platforms will be established to ensure that the momentum generated during the conference is sustained and maintained.

 The aim of these platforms will be to foster a community of practice which continues to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices, driving continuous improvement and innovation in the African retirement sector.


  • The 2024 IRFA Conference, with its theme “Better Together,” is poised to be a transformative event in the African retirement sector.
  • It will serve as a catalyst for fostering effective collaboration between the private sector, regulators, educators and governments.
  • By aligning with key Sustainable Development Goals, the conference aims not only to enhance retirement outcomes but also contribute to the broader agenda of sustainable and inclusive growth on the African continent.