The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has met with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to discuss ways to modernise the postal network to benefit from e-commerce.
The meeting between Department Director-General Robert Nkuna and UPU Director-General Ambassador Bishar Hussein was aimed at ensuring that the country emerges with a clear roadmap of how it will work with the UPU to extract the most value from the increasing global trade that is driven by e-commerce activity.
“The postal services sector is very important in the successful implementation of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper. It is not a stand-alone policy. It is part of the comprehensive policy overhaul to modernise the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector for the inclusion of all citizens. We are aligned to what the UPU is doing and have referred to it in finalising the White Paper,” said Nkuna of the meeting held in Pretoria.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Hussein said one of the envisaged outcomes of his visit was to implement a postal network hub for Southern Africa in South Africa, following the approval of UPU strategy that focusses on e-commerce, financial inclusion and postal reform.
“Africa is not well represented in the current global e-commerce map. The continent has one billion people who are mostly young and tech savvy. They represent an exciting market. Global postal hubs are an idea whose time has come, only if they get off the ground,” said the Ambassador.
According to Ambassador Hussein, the UPU postal strategy was presented and accepted by all the seven regions of the UPU and now the focus was on finalising delivery mechanisms.
The UPU is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.
The UPU shared a proposal on setting up a regional hub in South Africa. Ambassador Hussein said they identified countries that have good telecommunications infrastructure and sea and air entry points.
He added that South Africa was chosen as a starting country in the region and other countries are welcome to set up their own hubs.
SA Post Office (SAPO) Chairperson Dr Simo Lushaba said the UPU proposal was aligned to the turn-around of the post office.
“The proposal gives us mechanisms to implement our turnaround. It also enables small and medium companies to be global players,” said Dr Lushaba.
SAPO Chief Executive Mark Barnes said the post office is already seeing an increase on its international mail business with volumes being 20% up compared to last year.