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Universal Postal Union pushes African post offices to go digital

Africa , 27 Feb 2019

Universal Postal Union pushes African post offices to go digital

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has urged Africa's postal system to tap into e-commerce and leverage related revenue streams.

The UPU said it will work with 21,000 African post offices and 138,000 postal agents via the Ecom@Africa initiative.

The initiative will facilitate the introduction of integrated cross-border e-commerce ecosystems provided by postal operators via physical e-commerce fulfilment centres or 'hubs', interfaced with online e-commerce platforms.

UPU is currently evaluating postal exchanges and identifying countries that it feels have "conducive regulatory conditions and investment climates" and assist with funds sourced from its Quality of Service (QoS) fund established in 2001.

To date Tunisia, Côte D'Ivoire and Ethiopia have agreed to establish fulfilment centres.

Leolinda Dieme, Africa Regional Expert for the UPU's Development Cooperation Directorate, said, "The post has the comparative advantage of its global network. Post (offices) have an extended physical network infrastructure covering both rural and urban areas and therefore have the opportunity to reach and connect more people than other delivery agents."

Fredrick Omamo, Expert for E-Commerce Operational Integration at UPU added, "Since the untapped e-commerce potential in Africa is so huge, postal supply chain stakeholders in Africa have to integrate e-commerce into their operations right now or they might miss the train. As ever more business traffic is generated through online transactions, the window of opportunity is fast closing for many African Posts if they do not embrace e-commerce."

The UPU said that African countries need to prioritise postal development in their national budgets, modernise their postal infrastructure and help ease cross-border trade.

According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) only 21 million Africans participated in e-commerce activity in 2017.

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