02/21/17

5th Annual SAPOA Postal Forum, South Africa 2017

Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Durban, South Africa, 21 February 2017

It is a great pleasure to address you at this very important event, the 5th Annual Postal Forum for the Southern Africa Postal Operators’ Association (SAPOA), being held here in Durban, South Africa. I wish to thank SAPOA for inviting us to this important event within the SADC region. I also wish to thank the government of South Africa, for hosting this very important occasion.

The 5th SAPOA Postal Forum is being held at an opportune time when the postal sector is facing unprecedented changes and increasing calls for the sector to transform and become more modernised, diversified, competitive, and responsive to customer needs. The presence of high-ranking officials at this conference, from both the regional and international postal community, demonstrates the importance being attached to developments within the postal sector in the SADC region. It is my hope that SADC member countries here present, will take the opportunity to identify new areas of collaboration, share new ideas, get updates on current and future trends, as well as benchmarking with international best practice.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the impact of new and emerging technologies has created a dramatic shift in the postal landscape. In response to the rapid changes being faced within the postal sector, postal organizations are called upon to come up with new strategies geared to reposition and transform the sector, with a view to seize the opportunities arising from  the emerging digital economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the tremendous growth in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and in financial services, are among the notable drivers of growth within the communication sector and hence the need to develop strategies for leveraging ICTs in transforming the postal sector in the region. The need to embrace new technologies cannot be overemphasized, in an effort to improve operational efficiency and service delivery, as well as diversifying into a wide – range of IT – based products and services. Partnerships between postal operators and ICT service providers, will no doubt be significant benefit to both parties and also to customers.

The rapid growth of e-commerce creates more business opportunities for the postal sector and the Posts should harness the potential of emerging e-commerce as a growth opportunity. The Post is an important player in the e-commerce value supply chain, as the growth in e-commerce results in increased volume of parcels which need to be delivered. Focus should be more on consumer-centric services and postal operators must develop delivery solutions that truly differentiate themselves from existing and emerging competitive e-commerce players.

The postal operators should also focus on the changing customer needs and continually review their processes and product offerings, in an effort to remain competitive and relevant. It is important for the Post to appreciate the changing needs of customers and consumer behavior, with a view to coming up with new solutions and new innovations in partnership with other players in the market.

Indeed, the other business opportunities which the Posts can capitalize on, is in the area of postal financial services. The number of international migrants, especially in developing countries, continues to rise. Therefore, access to efficient, affordable financial services and funds transfer services, is crucial in stimulating economic growth and poverty alleviation in member countries. The extensive postal network in our respective countries can also be used to ensure financial inclusion, especially for people in the unbanked rural areas. Provision of electronic money transfer services and other postal financial services, also provides lucrative business opportunities to postal organisations worldwide.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to express my appreciation for the long standing relationship that exists between the UPU and SAPOA and I wish to commend member countries for the efforts being made to improve postal services in the region. The UPU will continue to be your partner in this endeavour.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful conference over the next three days.

I thank you for your kind attention.