Regional Development Plan for Africa 2013-2016

Address by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein at a meeting of the Pan-African Postal Union, Arusha, Tanzania - 21 February 2008

It gives me a great pleasure to take part in this important event held jointly by the UPU and PAPU and aimed at defining the priority postal projects and programmess for Africa during the 2013-2016 work cycle.

At the outset let me thank the host government for its warm welcome and hospitality.

I thank the secretary general of PAPU and his secretariat for co-hosting this important event with UPU and for inviting me to Arusha. Allow me to convey to you the best wishes from my colleagues at the International Bureau in Berne.

The formulation of the Regional Development Plan for 2013-2016 puts us on the path of implementation of the Doha Postal Strategy approved by the 25th UPU Congress. This forum gives us the opportunity to map out a coherent approach forward.

I wish to underscore the fact that the post is an essential infrastructure for a nation's social and economic development. Governments and international organizations must recognize this fact and place them high on their agendas, plans and programmes. UPU will continue to support and promote the development of the postal sector in all parts of the world.

You will recall that during the last work cycle, the African region proposed key strategic projects in its regional development plans that were implemented with the active participation of the restricted regional and sub-regional unions.

Quality of service was given top priority with five key projects developed and implemented. Milestones were defined  to measure the progressive implementation of the projects. The results indicated varying degrees of success in implementation, ranging from 40% to 60%.

The second priority action area was the diversification of services. Electronic money transfer services were implemented to help countries connect to the UPU’s worldwide electronic postal payments network and extend the service in their respective networks. We now have 26 countries in Africa on the IFS platform, four of them running  domestic IFS. This project has given many customers access to financial services such as savings and micro-finance, thus fostering financial inclusion.

While African Posts have registered some considerable progress, there is still a lot to be done to bring them to the desired levels. The following statistics illustrate some of my concerns on the pace of development of postal services in Africa.

  • Africa hosts 40% of the least developed countries, postally speaking.
  • Africa has the highest number of postal outlets not connected electronically
  • Africa's percentage decline in mail volumes compared with other regions is high.
  • Africa has experienced a decline in parcel-post volumes in 2010/11 (-7.5%) compared with other postal regions that have posted positive growth.

My desire as we embark on the new cycle is to see Africa at the centre of the UPU’s activities, reverse these trends and harness its great potential.

The focus for this region during this cycle (2013-2016) is clearly spelled out in the priorities adopted during the 25th UPU Congress. The UPU has now set aside 38.5% of its development corporation budget for this cycle to support priority projects in Africa. The highest priority projects will be allocated 70% of the budget, and the second-level projects will receive 30% of this funding.

In addition, African must utilize effectively the UDS 8,000,000 from the Quality of Service Fund to support  quality of related projects. I will however hasten to add that these amounts in real terms are but a drop in the ocean to cover the needs of postal organizations in Africa. More funds are required.

Quality of service will again remain top priority in this cycle. The key strategic projects will include:

  • improvement of quality of service for domestic and international mail
  • development of e-commerce, parcels and small packets services
  • development of the electronic financial network and diversification

I look forward to working closely with governments, international organizations, donors and other partners on programmes that aim at improving access to services through the postal network. The UPU will also continue to develop technologies that are relevant and affordable to the member countries.

Capacity building and human resource development is equally important. In the last cycle, 126 group training activities were organized in all regions  with more than 2,000 postal managers participating at a cost of CHF 430,000 from the UPU special fund.

The UPU's development cooperation policy 2013-2016 focuses on distance training, transfer of know-how and exchange of best practices.Trainpost offers 42 online courses in four languages. Nearly 7,640 participants from 177 countries benefited from the course by June 2012. This platform offers wide reach, low cost and high-quality content. I would therefore urge the African region members to take full advantage of this training to enhance their human resource capacities and service delivery.

In conclusion, I wish to affirm that the UPU will continue to use the regional approach for implementation of the union's development cooperation policy. UPU will help in the implementation of postal reforms, acquisition of tools needed to provide quality universal postal service, provision of assistance to the least developed countries and countries in special situations and maintain active presence in the field.

Dear colleagues, UPU will always be at your service. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for all your needs.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you for your attention.