PAPU Regulatory Forum, Algeria 2018

Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein at the Pan-African Postal Union during the forum on regulation, 11 April 2018, Algiers, Algeria

Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Nacer, Board Chairman of the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Algeria

Mr. Abdelkarim Dahmani, the Chairman of Algérie Poste,

Mrs. Bety Aichatou Habibou Oumani, the Chairperson of the Post and ICT Regulatory Board of Niger

Mr. Younouss Djibrine, Secretary General Pan African Postal Union,

Mr. Pascal Clivaz, my colleague and the Deputy Director General of UPU

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased for the opportunity to address this forum on postal regulation. I wish to thank PAPU for organizing this meeting that will address one of the most important aspects of our modern postal business: Regulation.

As the postal market opens to more competition, thanks to technological influence that has transformed consumer expectations, the subject of regulation becomes of utmost importance. As postal operators roll out new digital products that are powered by technology, there is a greater need for fair play in the marketplace as well as the responsibility to safeguard consumers from losing their money through transacting via insecure platforms.

Much as the post has been in the business of money transfer for close to a century now, the new channels of transactions today require greater responsibility and efficiency to ensure both safety and reliability of these platforms.

Furthermore, development of technology has exposed the post to new competition from other players who are not in the traditional postal area. Much as the adoption of new technology has given the post a lucrative stream for profitability, it has also exposed it to more unexpected competitors. The situations call for good regulation, sometimes of multiple nature, so as to level this playing field and also protect the end users of our services.  

Our traditional postal businesses evolved as monopolies and stayed that way for a long time. This served them well when letter-post was their primary business. By then the work of regulators either never existed or where it did it was not felt much. We operated in what seemed like quite a closed business environment but one that, I would say, also closed the post from many other profitable opportunities.

Today the post is faced with increased sector regulation, especially in areas of financial services and electronic commerce. They are also regulated for competition and quality of service, among others. Moreover, because of the increasing scope of their businesses the posts have attracted a multiplicity of other regulators beyond the postal one. They are now also regulated by financial regulators for their financial services and by telecommunications network regulators for their e-transaction segments, among others.

The UPU has recognized the increased and important roles played by regulators of the post. That is why we also have a running regulatory forum during one of our council’s sessions. Going forward, we are planning to have the first major regulators summit sometimes next year. If successful, we intend to have the forums more frequently; possibly on an annual basis. 

Owing to the expanding new business streams that the post has been getting into, it is predictable that in the near future we may see our businesses engaging in virtually every commercial activity available.  In so doing, our competitors, as well as collaborators, will increase. Areas of exclusivity will also keep diminishing, making our success dependent only on our capacity to adapt to new business environments.  

I see, therefore, the role of regulators becoming even more crucial; not so much to police the industry but rather to manage competition, ensure good business practices and enforce quality of services delivery.

As we deliberate today at this forum, I wish to encourage you not to only focus on our industry as it currently is but to think of it in the near and distant future. Given the direction of the post business that is increasingly being influenced by modern technologies, innovation and development of new products, the ideal scenario in future would be one that has neither has reserved services nor any defined protection from competition. The good part of this is that there will also be better opportunities to make more money and grow our investments.

For the regulators in the room, I see your job as being to oversee more players in our space, protecting of consumers and facilitating of businesses to create more value to citizens’ lives and contribute to national developments of our respective countries.

Regulators determine the health of our businesses and investments. That is why we expect them to be independent so as to be impartial. We also expect them to be decisive and firm. This is because the success and failure of industries are more determined by the quality of regulation than by anything else.

Good regulation can build a strong business environment but bad regulation can kill even the strongest of businesses.

I wish you good deliberations.

Thank you for your attention.