Malawi hosts 33rd PAPU meeting

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Administrative Council of The Pan African Postal Union (PAPU), an umbrella body of the African Union (AU) responsible for Postal Administrative matters in Africa, is underway in Malawi  and will run up to 12th August, 2014.

The Government of Malawi through Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) is hosting the event which has drawn delegates from across Africa and beyond including the Director General of the Universal Postal Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations on postal matters.

Opening the event today, information and civic education minister Kondwani Nankhumwa the Government of Malawi greatly appreciates the role that PAPU, sub regional postal organisations and the international Bureau of the Universal Postal Union play in spreading the development of the postal industry in Africa.

“Many people at some point thought that this sector was fast heading for the sun set,” he said.

“However, these international organisations have tirelessly provided the right direction to ensure that the industry does not only survive but consciously grows to great heights. The world can now see a postal industry that is vibrant and ready to offer innovative services that we could not imagine only a decade ago,” he added.

The cabinet minister also said Malawi is seeing players joining the industry, a scenario which is presenting a competitive postal environment, which has culminated into diverse ICT products and a wider range of choice to users of postal services.

“Traditional postal services have also unprecedentedly been improving day by day to meet the present day customer needs,” he said.

Nankhumwa stated that the government of Malawi reaffirms its commitment to PAPU’s membership, along with other players in order to further develop the sector which is playing a crucial role towards Malawi’s economic development agendas.

“The government of Malawi recognises and supports PAPU’s six strategic objectives that have the greatest potential to transform and modernise postal service on the continent,” he observed.

Malawi has dedicated herself to live to the expectations of PAPU in that today, said Nankhumwa who said his country can proudly talk about conducive environment for provision of postal services, increased number of postal outlets, creation of new ICT products and services, promotion of reforms for sustainable development of the sector, development of postal financial services not only to urban areas but also to the 80percent of the population who live in rural under/unbanked areas, among many other things.

In order to spearhead postal development in the country, he said the Government of Malawi through MACRA as a regulator of communications industry championed the review of the Communications Act (1998).

“The draft revised Act has incorporated aspects of Universal Service Fund, for example, from the Public Postal Operator – MPC will be compensated for their Universal Service Obligation,” he said. “This will help to increase access to postal services especially by people living in areas and the underprivileged.”

And in fulfilment of one of the strategic objectives of PAPU, the Malawi Government through MACRA, he said, has partnered with the Public Postal operator the Malawi Posts Corporation in enhancing ICT services by establishing Telecentres in rural post offices.

“As a result of this partnership, Malawians in rural areas are now able to access internet services within their localities without having to travel long distances since the public postal operator boasts of having outlets in all corners of the country,” the minister said.

Adding that these interventions are some of the issues that have been carried out in an effort to develop the postal sector in Malawi although they are now keenly looking forward to recommendations resolutions and decisions of this meeting in order for us to be appropriately guided on how to further improve our postal sec

The delegates to the meeting will deliberate on a wide range of issues concerning postal development in Africa including: Quality Improvement and Business Development; E-Services; Postal Reform, Regulation and Policy; and Postal Strategy.

Speaking before the Malawi minister PAPU secretary general Younouss Djibrine said special tribute to the minister whose ministry through two key relevant communication agencies MACRA and MPC have organised the event.

“I wish to particularly commend MACRA for all the sacrifices you have made to meet the travelling and accommodation costs of PAPU secretariat staff, in line with relevant resolutions of higher organs of our union,” he said.

Djibrine explained that since the deliberations of the Technical Committees are the main contributions to the work of the Management Committee whose main meeting will be held later in the week, it will aim at reviewing and discussing relevant issues that have been identified before making recommendations to submit to the Board for approval.

“The host country, although not a member of the Board of UPAP has largely demonstrated its commitment to the spirit of solidarity that characterizes the AU Member States and its specialized agencies,” he said.

Djibrine said that the Commission of the African Union Commission (AUC), as it is concerned, continues to participate actively in UPAP and from time to time, provide the resources necessary for the execution of some of its activities.

“The implementation of programs and projects is to improve the quality of service is to strengthen the postal network in the continent,” he said.

During the week, there will also be a panel discussion revolving around the theme of this year’s meeting “Postal Regulation: Stimulating Growth and Quality of Service Improvement” that will be moderated by MACRA Director General, Charles Nsaliwa.

There will also be presentations on a variety of topics by various presenters including:  “Best practices on regulatory regimes: What can Africa learn from other regions?”- La Poste Congo Republic as well as another one: “Lessons learnt from Zimbabwe’s experience in establishment and management of the Universal Service Fund”  to be presented by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

Uganda Communications Commission will present “How can postal regulatory regimes contribute to improvement of quality of service,” while the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Benin will present “Innovation in the postal sector: Sustainable development-the experience of Benin”.

Communications Authority of Kenya will present “Transformation of the regulatory authority-what does it portend?” while Malawi’s Postmaster General for its Malawi Posts Corporation, Andrew Kumbatira will moderate presentations on financial inclusion.

The issues of postal financial inclusion will look at “Financial & Social Inclusion/ Industrialization of Africa” to be made by AUC Mobilization of Savings for SMEs’ growth of South Africa while the Tunisian delegation will present “E-commerce/ Trade facilitation: Creating critical mass for growth”-

Another presentation will be “Money transfer services made affordable to Africans” by Instant Cash FTE (Emirates Post)/ Kenya/ Visa Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the end of the meeting, delegates will adopt resolutions and recommendations and issue a final communiqué.

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