7th SAPOA Postal Business Forum, South Africa, February 2019

Speech by the UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz at the 7th Southern Africa Postal Operators Association (SAPOA) Postal Business Forum, Durban, South Africa, 19 February 2019


Your Excellency Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister of Communication of the Republic of South Africa,

Mr. Robert Nkuna, the Director General of Telecommunications and Postal Services of the Republic of South Africa,

Mr. Festus Hangula, the Chairman of SAPOA Management Board, 

CEOs of SAPOA organizations,

SAPOA Secretariat and organizers of this forum,

Mr. Masahiko Metoki, the Chairman of UPU’s Postal Operations Council, 

Dear delegates and participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to participate in the 7th SAPOA Postal Forum. I wish to thank the organizers for inviting the UPU to this meeting and the South African Government for the excellent facilitation for my visit and that of my colleagues from the International Bureau of the UPU.

Dear friends, SAPOA is one of the most organized postal operators' body within the UPU membership. Indeed, it is for this reason that the association has been recognized as an observer to UPU activities.
Africa is the largest region of UPU and SAPOA sub-region, being almost one-third of the continent, represents a crucial constituency of our Union. SAPOA individual members and countries have in recent times played very key roles in the decision making processes of the Union.  In the run-up to the 2016 UPU Congress and the 2018 UPU Extraordinary Congress, the Republic of South Africa was among the leading countries that helped broker the Reform of the UPU that, among other benefits, has resulted into four additional seats for Africa to the Postal Operations Council.

Mr. Chairman, in provision of technical assistance through the development and cooperation programmes to the SADC countries, UPU is working closely with the identified least developed countries in the sub-region for the procurement of various equipment for the post. We are also providing technical experts in the fields of postcode standards as well as training on a wide range of areas in postal services, including IT software and tool. Last November we held a successful workshop on operational readiness for e-commerce (ORE) for SADC countries and currently we are involved in workshops on diversification of products and postal e-services.

The other UPU financial tools that are available for technical assistance at the national level are those related to Quality of Service Fund (QSF).  Last year, the QSF Board approved 16 projects for Africa and four of those were in favour of countries in SADC sub-region. I wish to appeal to members here to make more use of the facilities availed through QSF to improve your service delivery in various areas.

Furthermore, UPU has developed the Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) that is availing to member countries unique opportunity to fund national projects aimed at expanding their postal financial network to better address customer needs through the digitization of financial services. Through this facility, we expect the Post will reinforce its role as the major partner for financial and social inclusion.

In 2017 UPU developed a project to help postal entities to better measure their service delivery capacities in various business segments. The UPU’s Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD) is today the most comprehensive measurement tool for postal services and offers performance indicators for reliability, reach, relevance and resilience of each Post at both regional and global levels. We are confident members will find data from 2IPD helpful in making a sound decision for various players in the postal industry. This is important, especially in the development of e-commerce service delivery. 

In the inaugural 2IPD assessment in 2017, Mauritius was evaluated as the best performer in Africa, placing it in the 33rd position worldwide. Even though this index is not a measure of competition among the posts it, however, provides important data that can help organizations improve service delivery and investment in the various segments of the postal business.  We have seen a lot of interest for this service from among members some of whom have requested us to give them more targeted in-depth data in specific areas of service delivery. 

As a member of the United Nations system, it is UPU’s responsibility to ensure the contribution of the postal sector to the UN sustainable development goals for the Agenda 2030. More specifically, the UPU supports postal operators in their efforts to incorporate economic, environmental and socially sustainable development factors into their strategies and actions. Within SADC sub-region the UPU through Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Development is contributing to the renovation of Post offices in Madagascar and building resilient post offices in Zambia.

Mr. Chairman, ladies, and gentlemen, the post in Africa and most of the developing world have faced slow growth in recent times due to increased competition from other service providers as well as low investments. This is a sad situation given the fact that the post has the potential to foster public service delivery to citizens living in all parts of your respective countries. In the face of these lean times, we believe the post needs to diversify their service portfolio not only to continue being relevant but to also meet the current service demand by customers.

From the Doha World Postal Strategy to the current Istanbul World Postal Strategy, greater emphasis has focused on diversification of products and services as well as interoperability of postal systems. This is in order to take advantage of the big market available in electronic commerce. To this end, UPU has developed Ecom@Africa project that aims at helping the posts in the continent to roll out efficient e-commerce services. UPU is currently discussing the implementation of this project with South African Post as a possible e-commerce hub for the SADC sub-region.

Dear colleagues, this is a busy period for the Union as we start preparing for next year’s Abidjan World Postal Strategy. We are working with all the regions of the Union to ensure the new strategy is a reflection of the focus of the entire global postal network. The UPU strategy Forum for Africa is scheduled for June 2019 in Burkina Faso, where the Posts, Governments, Regulators and other postal stakeholders, will be invited to discuss on the postal environment dynamics and priorities for the region.  The result of these consultations will drive the Abidjan World Postal Strategy for 2021- 2024. I wish to call upon the postal administrations in the region to fully participate in this important exercise that will help shape our future business. 

Our initial reflection at the International Bureau is to come up with a strategy that encourages the creation of new products and services that would make the post more competitive in the market. The posts national, regional and global network should come in as a huge advantage to beat the competition. 

Finally, and very important, you are all aware discussions on the possible review of remuneration affecting certain postal services have been going on among the membership. You recall that the CA, in October 2018, agreed to accelerate actions to review the remuneration of E-commerce small packets, due to concerns expressed by some members, including the United States of America.  A lot of work has been done to this end. Even this week, the working teams on this subject will be meeting in Bern to finalize the impact study proposals that will be submitted by the remuneration groups to both the POC and the CA in April 2019. 

Following the decision of POC and CA in April, possible proposals will be submitted to the Abidjan Congress in 2020 for UPU members to make decisions on the amendment the UPU Convention. In case an urgent decision is required before 2020 on the remuneration system, it has been proposed either a postal ballot or an Extraordinary Congress may be organized as per the provisions of UPU General Regulations for decisions between Congresses.

I would urge Africa to actively participate in these discussions that have the potential to greatly impact the role of the Union as well as international postal business. 

In conclusion, I wish to express my gratitude to SAPOA for organizing this forum that will facilitate a platform for postal players in the region share best practices on the industry. I am sure the results of this forum will enhance the region's contribution to UPU’s initiatives, more so the development of an inclusive future strategy for the sector.

Thank you very much for according me this opportunity and thank you for your attention.

I wish you fruitful discussions.