South Africa’s Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) are discussing ways to modernise the country’s postal network to benefit from e-commerce.

The meeting between the department’s Director-General, Robert Nkuna, and UPU Director-General Bishar Hussein here Monday was aimed at ensuring that South Africa emerges with a clear roadmap of how it will work with the UPU to extract the most value from the increasing global trade which 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 Communication Technology (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.

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 an UPU strategy focusing 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, but only if they get off the ground,” he said.

According to 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 co-operation among postal sector players.

Referring to a proposal to set up a regional hub in South Africa, Hussein said the UPU had identified countries which have good telecommunications infrastructure and sea and air entry points and South Africa was chosen as a starting country in the region and that other countries are welcome to set up their own hubs.

South Africa Post Office (SAPO) Chairperson Dr Simo Lushaba said the UPU proposal was aligned to the turn-around plan for the post office. “The proposal gives us mechanisms to implement our turn-around. It also enables small and medium companies to be global players,” said Dr Lushaba.

SAPO Chief Executive Mark Barnes said the post office was already seeing an increase in its international mail business with volumes being 20 per cent higher compared with last year.


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