DESPITE efforts by Postal operators to revive the postal and courier services business, the sector continues to record negative growth.
The decline is being attributed to the advent of technologies that have replaced the old ways of communication. According to the 2017 First Quarter report released by the Postal and Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ), total postal volumes went down from 114, 555 that was recorded in the 4th quarter of 2016 to 50,828 during the first quarter indicating a negative growth of -55.6%.
By TechnoMag Reporter
All categories of postal and courier traffic declined in the quarter under review. The decline is typical after the peak festive period. International outgoing courier volumes experienced the biggest decline of 55.1%. The substitution of postal and courier services with electronic communication is also attributed to the decline in postal and courier volumes,” said POTRAZ
The total number of post offices in the country as at 31 Mach 2017, was 239. 142 out of the 226 post offices had Internet connection. Private bags remained 727 and rented private boxes were 12,392.
Having provided the numerical breakdown of the sector’s performance in the last quarter, it becomes obvious that the postal and courier business is severely under threat from new media and communication technologies. This is despite the fact that the postal business is still key and critical in the delivery of bigger packages the Internet or new technologies can not handle.
On the other hand sending that very same consignment through a friend or colleague who is traveling by bus to Gweru can cost only a single dollar or nothing, as a result, local Zimbabweans prefer unorthodox courier means to the formal one owing to the advantages the former has.
The 55% slump in international outgoing courier volumes can also be attributed to the same pricing factor. It is actually cheaper to send a parcel to a relative in South Africa by bus than through registered courier operators.
In an as much as courier operators want to make profits through their business, the Zimbabwean economic landscape does not allow for unnecessary spending and people are guarding their wallets jealously from unwarranted expenditure.
ZIMPOST has however made inroads in trying to bridge the gap that exists between the mobile means and traditional way of sending money around the country through its ZIPCASH facility which is almost as convenient as Ecocash.
It is such initiatives that players in the Courier and Postal business need to put in place so as to remain relevant.
Government on the other is fighting to reclaim the glory that was lost by Post Office centres. President Robert Mugabe recently commissioned a Community Information Centre in Manicaland that is meant to be the information hub of communities.
This move is meant to transform old Post Offices into ICCs so as to return the glitz and glamor that used to be associated with these places as a way of encouraging communities to make full use of Post Office centres. These ICCs are equipped with high speed Internet, gaming facilities among other services.
The letter business however remains under siege as most people now use mobile phones. Even mobile penetration is on a decline, chances of the letter reclaiming lost glory are next to none.