Yesterday, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Post Day in the resort town of Victoria Falls. The POTRAZ facilitated event saw postal and courier service providers coming together to celebrate the 141 Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). This year’s celebration is running under the theme “Innovation, Integration and Inclusion: Key Drivers for the future of the Post” to aptly captures the new direction the Post is taking today.
By Tongai Mwenje
Each speaker urged the sector to be innovative lest technological advancements kick them out of business.
In his opening remarks, the minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Matabeleland North Province, Hon Ambassador Cain Mathema said the hosting of the event in the resort town is a sign that it’s being recognized as the best place to gather ICT, Postal and Courier minds together. The Hon Minister was giving reference to the World Telecommunications Day celebrations held in the same town in May this year.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Universal Postal Union Regional Project Coordinator for Southern and Eastern Africa, Mrs Gladys R. Mutyavaviri, the Universal Postal Union Director General Mr Bishar Hussein said the celebrations are a reminiscent of a rich history of transformation in the Post, which has always been able to find its place in the world market.
“As we celebrate World Post Day, we can look back with satisfaction on a rich history of transformation in the Post, which has always been able to find its place in the world market,” he said.
Besides being able to remain relevant in the world market, Bishar said that the Post can pride itself on being the oldest medium of communication, one that still plays a key role in the sending of information and goods.
In his speech, the UPU boss applauded the Post for its resilience especially in this era where information technology is posing a threat in almost every sector of the world economy, for this reason the traditional postal business line-letter post- has been greatly challenged by technological advancements.
Courier and postal operators also took turns to share their experiences in this technological infested market. Zimpost managing director, Dr. D Zimbango spoke briefly on how they have managed to survive after the death of the traditional postal business. Dr. Zimbango said that Zimpost has developed a number of innovative products and services as a result of the emerging technological tools.
“Zimpost has thus introduced products such as ZipCash, ZipFound, Safe Custody Services, e-government services and many more to ensure inclusion of all communities through the extensive postal network,” Dr Zimbango said.
Besides these services, Zimpost is also working with Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services in rolling out Community Information Centres (CICs) inoder to bridge the digital divide between the rural and the urban populace in line with the Millennium Development Goals and ZIMASSET. This project has seen the birth of 8 CICs countrywide.
Jeffy Phiri, DHL Country manager also spoke on behalf of the Courier operators, which he commended that they are playing a pivotal role in the development of an efficient and more accessible postal and courier industry in Zimbabwe. The sector has also taken advantage of the opportunities that come with technology; customers are now able to trace and track their parcels, book collections, order supplies and getting quotations online.
“Our customers are now able to access our services and products from the comfort of their homes, offices or where ever they could be via online,” Phiri said.
As the regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe Deputy Director, Engineer Baxton Sirewu urged the postal and courier operators to be innovative so that obsolescence will not catch up with them.
“ As a regulator, POTRAZ continues to advocate for new and innovative ways to transform and mordenise the postal services sector by enabling regulatory framework and environment for this to take place,” said Eng. Sirewu. He also said that the regulator will always make sure that a level playing field is maintained.
The regulator pledged its support to the postal and courier services operators through fulfilling its mandates of creating awareness of the role of Postal and Courier sector and its contribution to the to te social and economic development of Zimbabwe.
Deputy Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Dr. Win Mlambo who was the guest of honour also reiterated the issue of Innovation as part of this year’s theme. “As can be seen, the first word of the theme is “innovation”, implying technology,” he said.
The Deputy Minsiter said that every country should be conscious of the impact of technology in this modern day age.
He challenged the postal and courier sector top brand to be proactive rather than reactive to remain relevant in the business. “Technology has undergone generations of transformation since 1874, and the trend still continues today.”
“It is in this context that instead of enjoying, you have reason to be worried because of the advances of ICTs since the beginning of the Universal Postal Union celebrations,” He continued.
Quality of service is an essential driver of postal business. Without high quality postal services, the sector would stagnate, making it very difficult if not impossible for posts to be seen as a serious market player in this era of increasing competition.
The future of the Post lies in diversification and development of new ICT based products and services, hence the need to seriously consider technology in their business models.
Meanwhile, POTRAZ has recognized young winners of the Universal Postal Union International Letter Writing competition. Three best students namely Runyararo Zianaro (Terry Goss High School), Tapiwa Garaba (Murambinda B Primary School) and Tinotenda Ruwaza (Terry Goss High School) walked away with price money of $600, $900 and $1200 respectively plus stationery hampers each.
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