Signing ceremony for Congress with Ethiopia

Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8 March 2018

Your Excellency Efrah Ali Musa, the State Minister for Communications and Information Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,

Mr. Ghiday Gebreyohannes, The General Manager of Ethiopian Post Enterprise,

Distinguished officials from ICT Ministry and Ethiopian Post,

Mr. Younnous Djibrine, The Secretary General of Pan African Postal Union,

My colleagues from the International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union,

Members of the media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is a happy moment for me and the UPU to sign the Congress host agreement with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

First I wish to congratulate the Ethiopian authorities for coming forward to host UPU’s Extraordinary Congress this September. We are very grateful for your taking up this heavy task on behalf of the UPU membership. As you may recall, September will be the first Congress to be hosted in the continent of Africa; and which better venue can we wish for other than the capital city of Africa?

I am particularly delighted that Ethiopia accepted to be the first country to host what we propose to be a permanent mid-term Congress in the calendar of UPU. This is a great support for Ethiopia to UPU’s reform programme that is aimed at facilitating faster decision making for postal administrations in the face of changing market realities.

The post business has over the years changed tremendously with the decline of the letter post, which has for centuries defined the post. 

We in the post don't take the decline of letter post as a loss in our business as in its place new and more profitable segments, namely e-commerce and financial services, have emerged.

E-commerce is growing at a very high rate with its B2B sales projected to reach $1 trillion by 2020. That is why the post is positioning itself to become a big player in this emerging trade. This is visible given the large global delivery network enjoyed by the post.

It means that, however, to succeed in these new business segments, the post has to compete with new formidable players. Success for the post in e-commerce with also project it as a major player in the national development of the various countries.

Honorable minister, I wish to point out with regret here that Africa’s potential in e-commerce is still largely unexploited with the world trade being dominated by Asia, Americas, and Europe. It is for this reason that UPU has come up with an initiative to help Africa fully participate in this new focus of the trade.

Through the Ecom@Africa project, UPU is helping African countries refocus their posts to online business and take advantage the continent’s growing middle class and Internet connectivity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Extraordinary Congress to be held in Addis Ababa this September will focus on subjects that are aimed at reforming the UPU and the post business in general. We believe these reforms will not only create more efficiency in the Union but will also help best define postal products to align them with customer needs.

I am in Addis Ababa with my technical and logistics team that is working with the Ethiopian counterparts to ensure we stage an efficient event in this historic city.

As we are moving towards the last stage of our preparatory work, I wish to urge Ethiopia devote more personnel to this process so as to address the many areas that are required for a successful Congress. I have a dedicated team that will assist you to ensure best preparations for the big conference.

Thank you very much for your collaboration in this event.

Thank you for your attention