Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi, CA Board Chairman Mr. Ngene Gituku, Information and Communications Technology Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru and Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mr. Sammy Itemere during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Administrative Council of the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) in Nairobi. The Administrative Council is one of the key decision-making organs of PAPU that meets annually to consider and approve the Union’s budget and work plan and review its performance.

The vast postal network offers a platform for deepening financial inclusion in Africa, Information, Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru has said.

Addressing delegates attending the 36th Ordinary Session of the Pan African Postal Union Administrative Council at a Nairobi hotel, Mr. Mucheru said the Posts are better positioned in banking women, the poor, the less educated and those in the informal economy, who tend to be disadvantaged by other financial institutions.  

‘‘Postal networks should be an integral part of discussions in which governments, policy makers and international organizations design strategies for fostering financial inclusion,’’ said Mr. Mucheru.

According to the Universal Postal Union’s Global Panorama on Postal Financial Inclusion 2016, two billion people worldwide are financially excluded, meaning they have no access to financial services.

A GSMA report of February 2016 shows that at the end of 2015, there were almost five times more postal accounts than mobile money accounts, which at the time stood at 411 million worldwide. However, mobile money accounts are growing exponentially when compared with postal accounts.

The Cabinet Secretary also called for increased adoption of e-commerce on the continent, which he said now holds the key to the region’s socio-economic transformation.

‘‘E-commerce offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a unique opportunity to access international markets. According to the International Trade Centre, e-commerce was estimated at over US$15 trillion for annual business-to-business transactions and well over US$1 trillion for annual business-to-consumer trade in 2015,’’ said Mr.Mucheru.

He however lamented that Africa’s contribution to the global e-commerce statistics was just below two per cent in 2015, and called on African states to put in place necessary interventions to foster the growth of e-commerce.

‘‘For Africa to become a key player in e-commerce, PAPU member states gathered here must address the four key barriers to the growth of e-commerce on the continent namely; financial, infrastructural, socio-political and the digital divide,’’ added Mr.Mucheru.

Africa is set to benefit from the Universal Postal Union (UPU)’s project targeted at transforming the Post and e-commerce in the region. The Regional Development Plan for Africa has identified e-commerce and financial services as the potential areas of growth for post.

‘‘We have noted that Africa is lagging behind in e-commerce business facilitation globally. We wanted to strengthen this link in the UPU e-commerce supply chain and provide an opportunity for the continent to join the rest of the world in this fast growing trade,’’ said UPU Director General Amb. Bishar Hussein.

The Ecom@Africa project which seeks to create a continental-wide postal e-market zone will be initially be rolled out in Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco and Tunisia with other countries set to join it later.

PAPU Secretary General Mr.Younous Djibrine said in actualizing the Ecom@Africa initiative, the Union has already embarked on the implementation of virtual platforms for e-commerce as well as smart storage and distribution systems in each of the five regions across Africa.

‘‘This project holds huge benefits for Africa and since its inception, PAPU has worked hard to ensure that Africa is not left by the wayside,’’ said Mr. Djibrine.

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku called on postal regulators across the continent to institute necessary interventions to harness the potential presented by the existing postal infrastructure and the prospects of e-commerce to further develop the postal sector.

‘‘Governments and regulators must take deliberate actions to increase access to Internet to sections of the population, to fast track the adoption of e-commerce,’’ said Mr. Gituku.

The outgoing chairman of the Administrative Council of PAPU, CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi rallied the delegates to fast track reforms at the continental postal body, to make it responsive to the realities of the current postal business ecosystem.

‘‘The rapid evolving postal operating and business environment calls for regular review of the constitutive framework of the Union,’’ noted Mr. Wangusi.

The Administrative Council is one of the key decision-making organs of PAPU that meets annually to consider and approve the Union’s annual work plan, budgets and review its performance.