Guided by the theme “Delivering sustainable development: Connecting citizens, businesses and territories,” ministers’ discussions reaffirmed the Post’s role as a driver of global development.
The Conference comes at a time when the postal sector is facing profound transformation due to the development of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the booming of e-commerce.
“This new context represents a chance for Posts to be even more relevant in the future as the trusted intermediaries and vehicles connecting governments, citizens, businesses and territories,” opened UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein.
Minister of Posts, ICTs and Communication, Bruno Nabagné Koné noted that Posts are an undeniable actor in the fight against poverty, facilitating e-commerce, supporting the rural world, as a link between states and the population.
For his part, Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Ahmet Arslan added: “I believe our discussions and deliberations here will lead to very important decisions. They will help us cement a global postal network where businesses and citizens will be able to determine the benefit they can derive from these services in the future.”
More than 50 ministers in charge of the postal sector gathered for the conference, which was hosted during the 26th Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.
One key focus of the talks was using the Post’s far-reaching network to drive social and financial inclusion.
One example is Kenya’s Huduma Centre concept, where citizens in remote areas can access vital government services through the extensive postal network in the country. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, says the country is also beginning to implement a mobile mailbox service.
“We are bringing services into the mobile and digital age to make sure citizens have access,” said Mucheru.
Financial inclusion is another area where Posts are already making significant gains.
To this end, Spanish Vice Minister for Public Works and Transport Mario Garcés noted the success of the Correogiros remittances network, which connects Latin American countries and Spain. He remarked that the low price of sending money transfers through the system, coupled with customers’ trust in the Post, makes the Correogiros a good alternative to more expensive private solutions.
“We’re breaking down borders, breaking down cultural barriers as well as financial ones,” said Garcés
Ministers lauded the role of the Post in facilitating global trade, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who often find it difficult to export their goods.
Exporta Fácil—after which the UPU modeled its Easy Export trade facilitation programme—was one example noted by Ecuador.
“Thanks to Exporta Fácil, a small business can export in five days and this has increased the development of SMEs,” said Ecuador’s Vice Minister for Information and Communication Technologies, Adrian Ibarra.
Some ministers remarked that there is still work to be done to improve the postal network to connect even more businesses with their customers. In particular, they noted the need to facilitate supply chain operations and reduce red tape.
Samoa’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Lepuiai Rico Tupai, also reminded participants of the difficulties smaller countries can face in joining the global supply chain.
“We can only realize small economies of scale, but we are part of a global chain that needs to be connected. We, the smaller part of the chain, need support and need encouragement,” said Tupai.
Speakers noted the important role the Post’s physical network can play in connecting customers to the digital world and facilitating the transition to serving a new, younger market.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary General Houlin Zhao noted that Posts should begin to see ICTs as an opportunity rather than a threat.
“Competition is something nobody can stop. You have to go together with innovation and competition and make it work,” said Zhao.
The Post collects data in key areas, such as communications, logistics, transport and finance, which could also be used to better serve customers, said Swiss State Secretary, Director General of the Federal Office of Communications, Phillip Metzger.
He remarked that governments can facilitate this process by establishing legal frameworks for data collection.
Ministers also stated that customers should be viewed as partners in the transformation of the postal industry and the development of innovative postal services.
“In order to get message across we need to communicate the potential of these new services and there’s no way to do that without dialogue with our customers,” said Metzger.Congress 2016, Sustainable development