NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – The Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) has said it will partner with the Information Ministry to roll out the digital villages through which the government intends to increase ICT penetration across the country.
Postmaster General Retired Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali disclosed to Capital Business that some of the digital villages would be located in various post offices through which the public – particularly those in the rural areas – can easily access government documents and information.
“Certainly over the next one year, we are going to be able to provide internet services where someone can surf the web or file your tax returns so that we have access to areas where the government has extended broadband for people to be able to take advantage of the presence of the fibre (optic cables),” he said.
Ali who’s in his third month as the corporation’s chief said Posta acknowledged the importance of adopting ICT as one way of growing their business and contributing to its development in the country.
“ICT is a major plank for the future. We are one of the few corporations that have an ICT base using anything between two to six Megabytes of broadband and we want to roll that out to all,” he emphasised.
He added that they would complement government’s plans in the setting up of those centres through for example making some of their structures available for use in the project.
“We want to augment that which the government is doing. In the event that the government would want to place a digital village within the confines of one of our offices, we will take that on board. In areas where that is not done, we will do it ourselves as an Internet Service Provider because we are in the communications business as well,” he said.
The Postmaster General said this initiative would impact positively on Posta’s business and help improve their annual revenue base from the current Sh3 billion.
“We will be doing agency services for organisations like KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority) where the public can come to the post office and use the facilities there to do their tax returns there,” he added.
Ali said such initiatives would enable them to compensate for the loss that the corporation has suffered due to a drop in revenues collected from sending postal mail.
Senior officials at the Information Ministry say the increased usage of internet has led to an 80 percent drop in the income from postal mail.
Ali projected that this is expected to drop by a further15 percent in the next five years but added that they plan to use their 760 branch-network and improved service delivery as competitive advantages that would enable them to compete effectively in the postal and courier services.
“Yes social mails have been affected but business mail, official mail, legal mail, bills and all those that require hard copies to be maintained will certainly remain and it’s an issue that we have to accept,” he admitted.
This situation however he said called for the development of other areas such as courier and EMS (Express Mail Service), he added.
He pledged that they would continue to change with the times and remain self-reliant in their quest to transform the state corporation into an independent profit making organisation.
“We don’t receive any money from the government and the trick is to remain self-sufficient in business so as not to be too dependent on external actors,” He stated, adding that their outlined measures though costly would be financed internally.
In 1999 when the unbundling of the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation led to the establishment of Posta, Telkom Kenya Limited and Communications Commission of Kenya, the corporation was running on a deficit of Sh250 million.
In less than 10 years however the 4,000 workforce firm has turned around into a profit making venture and the Postmaster General said their sights are still set high.
“We intend to do much more along the same lines,” he told this reporter although he declined to divulge what their targets were.