THEME: “Together, let’s diversify our offering through digitization”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Members of the African Postal Fraternity,

As the New Year dawns, I would like to seize this very first opportunity, on behalf of the staff of the General Secretariat, to convey my warmest greetings to Africa’s postal fraternity and my best wishes of success in both our individual and collective endeavours throughout the year 2019.

Our theme for this year’s edition of PAPU Day is:

“Together, let’s diversify our offering through digitization”.

The boom in information and communication technologies has completely revolutionized the habits and attitudes of many a person in all works of life. As a long-standing channel of communications and interactions between peoples and communities, the Post has not been left out of this new and emergent dispensation.
As it grapples with the demands of its universal service obligations, increasingly scarce government financing, fierce and growing competition from myriad players, compounded by inappropriate or, worse still, nonexistent regulation, the Post is left with no other option than to fight for its own survival and to prosper as it has done by reinventing itself to remain relevant in a constantly changing global environment.
Happily, enough, initial teething problems in Africa especially have not deprived postal sector players of their capability to roll out a plethora of innovative initiatives all aimed at ensuring a seamless transition into a digital age with tremendous opportunities for the sector to fully play its irrefutably established role as a key driver of socioeconomic development.
Indeed, it is heartwarming to note that by leveraging on the power of ICTs tools and its massive three-dimensional network, the post has resolutely risen up to the challenge of effecting its self-transformation by rethinking its operational and business processes, and equipping itself with streamlined and robust systems to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.
In fact, one is left to wonder if we really had a choice. Suffice to say that the resounding success of this unstoppable momentum for transformation calls for the development of innovative and diversified products and services that are of good quality, attractive, affordable and easily accessible to everyone at all times, especially to rural dwellers who are very often either unserved or underserved by essential social services that they ordinarily deserve in their day-to-day lives.
However, effective product diversification through digitization calls for a number of prerequisites, notably a robust, available and efficient digital infrastructure. In this respect, I am particularly pleased to observe that in several countries, the post is already on the right path towards meaningful modernization of their networks.
With regard to the diversification of its product and service offering, it is crucial for the post to mobilize a critical mass of well-trained and competent human resources to build highly-motivated multidisciplinary teams. Essentially, in the current era of convergence, the post must strive to build a multi-talented workforce.
Moreover, the communications and information dimensions must not be allowed to slip under our radar. Of what use is a high-quality and groundbreaking product if it is unknown to the customer? Of what use is an innovative and reliable solution if the customer does not know how to use it? I am therefore urging Africa’s postal leaders to invest more in communications and information technology tools. As an African contemporary saying goes, “what matters most is not to do things or to do them well, but rather to make them widely known to the deserving customers and end users…”.
In this respect, the booming e-commerce industry, powered largely by digital technologies, offers immense opportunities for the post to establish its leadership on this market. So far, key innovations include the modernization of customs services with the implementation of the Customs Declaration Systems (CDS) and the facilitation of secure financial transactions using solutions developed by the UPU Postal Technology Centre.
Again, we can do things right with these solutions, but we must make them known!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Members of the African Postal Fraternity,

Innovation is no longer an option! The post must devote all its energy to it and equally engage with external stakeholders. We must either innovate or become irrelevant. I know I can count on each one of you. The Pan African Postal Union remains at your disposal to support you in whatever capacity within the limits of its available resources.

Our journey towards transformation through digitalization calls for a seamless partnership among key postal service stakeholders. To achieve this goal, governments, among others, should be ready to invest heavily in such new initiatives.

We can therefore safely conclude that the ongoing ICT boom offers a unique opportunity for the development of postal services in our continent, Africa. Let us seize and maximize this opportunity accordingly! Permit me to reiterate a fact we should always bear in mind: Today, ICTs are synonymous with development. This entails therefore that this opportunity should be guarded jealously!

As I conclude my remarks, I wish to make a very important announcement that on 18th January 2020, the Pan African Postal Union will be 40 years old. This watershed date will provide us with another opportunity to take stock of how far we have come, as well as to set new targets with the ultimate goal of bringing about a comprehensive growth in the postal sector of our countries and transforming Africa into a continent of collectively and inclusively emerging nations.

I am therefore calling on the entire African Postal Fraternity to get ready to join us in celebrating this landmark event that will mark yet another major milestone in the life of our Union.
On this note, permit me to once again wish you a happy, peaceful, prosperous and highly successful year in 2019.
Long live Africa!
Long live Africa’s postal sector!

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