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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Influx of electronic products force NIPOST to diversify


The explosive growth of the communications market has forced many postal administrations to move beyond the core, physical mail business says the Post Master General of the Federation, Mallam Ibrahim Mori Baba.

Speaking at the 5th ITEdge West Africa Convergence forum in Lagos, last weekend, while dwelling on ‘The Impact of ICT on Postal Operations and the Future of the Postal Sector’ he said that postal administrations globally have realized they have to fight for the postal business.

“… Not only with competitors for physical mail, but also, with the providers of new electronic communications products that have no national borders,” he declared.

He pointed out that they are now diversifying in order to broaden the range of services offered to customers.

“Today, we have a number of hybrid postal products which combine electronics with hard copy delivery,” he said, noting that for the Postal sector in a number of countries, technology has been used as a generator of growth for physical mail.

Adapting technology to postal operations, he said, has made it easy for them to provide e-based services as well as track and trace for parcels and registered mail items.

Mori Baba further said that they have used transportation technology to deliver mail faster to customers, adding that they have used technology for improvements of their infrastructure, from postal counters to automation of the postal processing chains.

To this extent, he said that the future of the postal sector remains bright despite the fact that many people are still wondering what the future holds for the Postal sector given the intense competition in the market.

“I dare say that the future is very bright,” he asserted.

He emphasised that the digital era no doubt presents enormous challenges and opportunities for the postal sector and the good thing is that the postal sector in many countries are partnering with the private sector, governments and corporate bodies to move the sector to the next level.

He said that radically changing customer behaviour driven by digital solutions and the ever spiraling use of the internet are revolutionizing the way in which businesses, governments and citizens interact.

“The implications of these changes are several, and include, for example, an imperative for Postal sector not only to secure the traditional mail business but also to quickly master the digital world (of 1.75billion internet users and the 1 billion mobile broadband users) and seize the emerging opportunities,” he observed.

The signs, he said, are positive as wave of innovative products and practices are emerging; many examples of diversification away from dependence on the mail already exist.

He said that as broadband penetration increases and the efficiency of electronic formats is recognized by both the Postal sector and customers, the time has come for Postal operators to use their initiative to create products that will bridge the divide between digital and physical.

According to him, the Post office is present almost everywhere-even in the remotest corners of many countries and serves as a key point of access to the outside world, especially for billions of people who are yet to have access to the Internet.

Its doors are open to all, without discrimination, making it a fundamental phenomenon, a force for integration.  Today, the Post office is so much more than the place you go to send or receive a letter or parcel; it is also a hub for electronic and financial services.

“Access to new information and communication technologies also means the ability to send a confidential electronic message securely and provides a means of receiving parcels containing goods ordered over the Internet,” he submitted.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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