Opening speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1 June 2016
Dear Delegates and Participants,
It is a great pleasure for me to have been accorded the opportunity to address this forum. I wish to thank the organizers of the meeting and the Government of Zimbabwe for the kind invitation for me to participate in this forum, and for the facilitation and good reception accorded to me in Harare.
The UPU attaches great importance to the development of Posts in Africa and we acknowledge the active role played by members of the SADC region in the activities of the Union. Your sub-regional organizations that address postal issues, SAPOA and CRASA, have been working very closely with the UPU to address the development of the sector in this region.
I wish to point out that the UPU has been involved in a number of key development projects in the SADC region during the 2013 – 2016 cycle. These include national and strategic regional projects.
For the national project, UPU has worked closely with a number of countries in the SADC region, mainly on the Multiyear Integrated Projects (MIPs), Integrated Postal Reform and Development Projects (IPDP), Quality of Service, as well as Postcode and Addressing System projects.
Apart from these projects that have benefited members directly at national levels, the UPU has also been involved in the facilitation of a number of projects of strategic regional importance to SADC countries. Such projects include, training and capacity building workshops in variety areas of postal development.
In this respect, we carried out workshops in IPS, IFS and GMS training in February in South Africa; a Quality Management Certification and Transport workshop last November in Bostwana; a WCO/UPU workshop held in Johannesburg; and an Electrification and Connectivity of Post Offices workshop held in Arusha. The UPU also participated in SAPOA’s Financial Network Opportunities in March in Durban. Moreover, countries from the SADC region have also been engaged in other development activities deployed by the UPU to Africa in general.
As you may be aware, in four months’ time the UPU will be hosting its supreme decision-making Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. This is a meeting of plenipotentiaries and I wish to urge ministers from the SADC region to give priority to Congress and, as much as possible, be in attendance.
Key decisions expected at Congress are to do with the roadmap to the future of the Post. This will be guided by the already agreed priorities of e-commerce, financial services and postal reforms. These priorities were agreed upon by all regions of the UPU membership, including Africa during last year’s strategy forums.
The Congress will also approve the 2017-2020 cycle’s business plan and the structure that will deliver all of our projects. This will also include approval of the budget for the next cycle.
Furthermore, in Istanbul members will be expected approve the UPU’s guiding vision that focuses on innovation, integration and inclusion. This vision direction was developed jointly between the International Bureau and member countries, and endorsed last year during the World Postal Strategy Conference in Geneva. I am very grateful to the SADC as this exercise was being spearheaded by Jim Petterson from the Republic of South Africa. We believe the new direction holds a lot of promise for Africa and the developing world as it seeks to open the Post to the highest growing areas of business that will be interlinked to create a single delivery and remittance territory for the benefit of the world’s citizens.
Closely linked with the new vision is the reform of the Union itself. As you will appreciate, the postal business has witnessed tremendous transformation from the traditional business to the current situation where innovation and technological advancement are key to growth and profitability. Unfortunately, our Union has remained stagnant and is at the verge of losing relevance in the changed marketplace. We cannot attain meaningful transformation in Posts unless we first reform the UPU.
It is for this reason that the Council of Administration has come up with a proposal that seeks to transform the Union and its working structures to create a more efficient organ that will deliver better results for members.
I would urge you to support these proposals and help in the attainment of a robust, efficient and fit-for-purpose Union.
I am pleased to inform you that we have already effected substantial reforms within the International Bureau by updating our operational rules and regulations to provide for more flexibility that will allow our international secretariat perform to its optimal level.
Within the reforms of the IB we have also enhanced gender balance and geographical representation to give the organization a truly international outlook.
As I conclude my remarks, I wish to thank UPU members from the SADC region for your very active participation in the Union’s activities. It is also gratifying to note that members of your region have met your membership obligation to the UPU that enables you to take part in decision-making activities of the Union, especially at Congress. Thank you for this commitment.
I wish you fruitful deliberations at this meeting.