AU urges postal corporations to tap internet revolution for electronic commerce

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The African Union Technical Committee on Communication and Information, Technology and Communication (ICT) has embarked on a new push to revolutionise the ailing postal services through a project aiming to rapidly fast-track regional integration and trade.

The AU Action Plan for Sustainable Development of Postal Services in Africa, which is under discussion at the meeting of African Ministers of Information and Technology, underway in Addis Ababa on Thursday, seeks to improve the postal services and infrastructure through investment in energy connections.

The plan is to connect post offices to electricity and internet and make them centres of electronic government services and mini-financial centres, AU officials say.

“Our aim is to improve the postal services and make them the centres of electronic commerce and the main centres for the decentralization of government services,” Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society Division at the African Union Commission (AUC), told PANA.

The AU proposal seeking to modernise the postal services to become the centres of e-commerce and financial services has been forwarded to the ministers of finance, economic planning and regional integration and the ministers of local government and public service for further discussion.

The ministers in charge of transport and cross-border infrastructure, energy and tourism have also been involved in the project, according to the AU.

Most post offices have been severely affected by the electronic mail system that analogue mails remain disused at best.

The ministerial meeting of ICT is expected to discuss the sources of financing the postal sector upgrade in Africa through the multiple fund-raising initiatives, including from the national budgets, the universal service fund, public-private funding partnerships and international development financiers.

An AU survey on the viability of the postal sector states the lack of modernization has seen Africa’s share of post offices remain at a paltry 2.3% of the total number of postal outlets worldwide with most African post offices delivering only 60% of the mail to mail boxes located inside post offices.

The AU wants the governments across the continent to make commitments towards modernization of the postal services through the creation of an elaborate system of postal codes, a recommendation which was endorsed by the foreign ministers of the AU in 2008.

A new system of national addresses has also been proposed as the next frontier of improvements.

In Kenya, the country’s postal services proposed to begin using the mobile phone numbers as the next post office addresses and proposed to deepen its courier services using the same numbers.

The AU has been asking its member countries to make the political commitments necessary to deal with the financing challenge facing the modernization of the postal services.

The Pan African Postal Union (PAPU), a continent-wide postal services specialised agency of the AU, has proposed to implement a continental system of post office codes.
-0- PANA AO/MA 23Nov2017

23 november 2017 08:15:51

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