Ministerial Roundtable: Accelerating the e-Trade Readiness of African countries, 2018

Remarks from Bishar A. Hussein, UPU Director General, at the Ministerial Roundtable: Accelerating the e-Trade Readiness of African countries, Nairobi, Kenya, December 2018



Ladies and gentlemen,

The Universal Postal Union is proud to be an active partner of the eTrade For All initiative.

I would like to start by commending UNCTAD for organizing this meeting and all the partners gathered here today for their commitment to the objectives of eTrade for All.

At the UPU we consider eTrade For All as a unique effort as it is built on cross-sectoral synergies to address the challenges faced by many LDCs in their efforts to be fully included into the E-commerce value chain. What makes this initiative unique is its multi-stakeholder nature.

Through the eTrade for All platform, the UPU and the other partners involved have pulled their synergies together to accomplish a great deal of work, while avoiding duplications of effort.

The UPU has mainly been involved in assessment work that is aimed at underlining the critical role of postal networks in driving the eTrade for All implementation in the countries concerned.

As the United Nations agency in charge of postal services, two key eTrade for All policy areas in particular are of great relevance to us: trade logistics and payment solutions. The two are very DNA of the Posts and critical components in the E-commerce and E-trade value chain. In each of the assessments undertaken so far, the importance of the postal sector as a delivery infrastructure for Etrade and E-commerce has been underscored. We have also identified gaps and challenges that need to be addressed in order to position the post as a contributor to the E-commerce readiness in the selected countries.

So now, how do we move forward and translate assessments and recommendations into actions?

First, we aim at sensitizing governments to not only be fully involved but also committed to driving the uptake of e-commerce in their respective countries. Government role is the key to the success of this initiative.

Secondly, on the trade logistics side, the UPU is working directly with postal operators at country level to build their operational readiness for E-commerce. We are providing them with IT tools and solutions that have a direct impact on their logistics capabilities on the improvement of their operational processes, as well as with Customs and carriers.

We also support our member countries in building a sound national addressing system, which is very often identified in the assessments as a key infrastructure gap in the development of E-commerce.

On the payment solutions front, the Posts, especially in Africa, are a key player to be considered and supported.  Here again we bring concrete, tangible solutions and support through the provision of a targeted technical assistance to Posts that are keen to digitize their financial and payments services. Through our Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF), we promote public/private partnerships between posts and Fintechs or other providers in order to foster financial inclusion for individuals and businesses. I will later this week announce officially the four first African countries that will benefit from the support of our facility.   

It is our goal to closely work with other partners in order to fully realize the promise that the eTrade for All framework holds. We do recognize the fact that without galvanizing the necessary resources and support from partners and donors, our call for action and implementation of this framework will remain ineffective.

The UPU is ready to do its part and is already doing so despite its very limited resources.

Therefore, I urge all the donor agencies, development banks and developments partners to come forward and support this critical initiative to achieve the required impact.

I thank you for your attention and I am looking forward to working with all of you in delivering the eTrade for All agenda.