Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mr.Sammy Itemere (in blue suit, front row),Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General General Mr.Francis Wangusi (on Mr. Itemere’s left) and Pan African Postal Union Secretary General Mr.Younous Djibrine (on Mr.Itemere’s right) with delegates from the continent  attending the Technical Committee Meetings of PAPU which kicked off in Nairobi today.

Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary, Mr. Sammy Itemere, has challenged African countries to innovate in order to revitalize the dwindling fortunes of the postal sector amidst increased competition from new and emerging communication technologies.

This comes as experts from around 46 countries gathered in Nairobi to devise ways of modernizing the postal sector and positioning e-commerce as the new frontier for socio-economic development in the continent.

Mr. Itemere said the postal sector needs to harness the opportunities presented by ICTs to improve quality of service and open up new revenue streams through value addition to the existing postal infrastructure.

‘‘Contrary to initial fears that information and communication technologies would render the postal utilities irrelevant, ICTs have indeed created additional opportunities for the post in Africa to remain relevant despite competition from instant messaging technologies,’’ said Mr. Itemere while opening the Technical Committee meetings of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) in Nairobi.

He added that while the Post has a huge market in the continent in terms of Africa’s growing population, it is grappling with serious infrastructural challenges that hinder full exploitation of its benefits.

‘‘These limitations range from lack of unreliable electricity supply to postal offices to a large portion of the population that does not have access to Internet service that they need to order goods and services online, ’’ said Mr. Itemere.

In Kenya, Mr. Itemere noted, about 90 per cent of public post offices are connected to the electricity grid with about 89.7 per cent of the population accessing the Internet, an opportunity the Postal Corporation of Kenya can take advantage of to change its fortunes and sustainability.

CA Director General, Mr. Francis Wangusi, who is also the chairman of the Administrative Council of PAPU, called on the member states present to institute necessary reforms if the postal sector is to survive.

‘‘A strong PAPU is important in developing homegrown strategies and mechanisms to ensure the post continues to play its rightful role in promoting intra-Africa trade and in the socio-economic development of the region’’ said Mr. Wangusi.

African countries are also negotiating with the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) with a view to lobby airlines to accord priority to postal mail during transportation as well ass accept to shoulder liability in the event of loss of mail.

The meeting was also addressed by the PAPU Secretary General, Mr. Younouss Djibirine, Post Master General, Mr. Dan Kagwe, and Dr. Kousai Mrabet, Director, Commercial, Corporate and Industry Affairs at the AFRAA.

The week-long committee meetings will culminate in the plenary of the 36th PAPU Administrative Council set to take place from 8th to 10th May 2017.