NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – The government is to set up a new committee next week, made up of key players in the postal and courier sector in order to come up with a solution for the defunct national addressing system formed two years ago.
Speaking at the 4th Annual Postal/Courier Stakeholder Forum, Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo acknowledged the failure of the government to implement the addressing system and assured stakeholders that a new committee made up of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission among others, would produce a detailed report on how to effectively employ the system in six months.
“I admit failure and I take full responsibility for that and I’m going to reconstitute the committee today so that in six months we can give you a workable solution,” he announced.
“One of the solutions we’re looking at is to make use of digitised maps through the use of GPS and this is how we’ll be able to grow the postal business by providing employment, because the more deliveries we do through e-commerce, the more jobs we create,” he explained.
The PS admitted that the Ministry of Immigration had been unable to send out the five million identification cards in their possession because they don’t have an adequate electronic data base of national addresses.
“Many Kenyans, especially those living in the rural areas, do not have an address registered with the government and that disqualifies them from receiving loans and credit from banks, which creates poverty,” he noted.
“We must be able to implement the same things in rural areas that we do in urban centres in order to reduce the rural-urban divide, especially in technology,” he emphasised.
The Universal Service Obligation requires that one post office serves 6,000 people, but in Kenya the ratio is one post office for every 50,000 Kenyans making it difficult for the post offices to accomplish its duty of providing accessible, affordable and reliable postal services to all citizens.
The volumes of postal mail have declined in Kenya by two to four percent and the entire sector is worth only Sh14 billion, but Postmaster General Hussein Ali confirmed that the Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) is working to utilise the technology platform in order to improve their profits, as well as security, reliability and efficiency for their customers.
“PCK is utilising the technology platform to deliver several e-products and services such as money transfer, agency based utility payments, agency banking, letterbox rental management systems and SMS alerts to our customers,” he revealed.
“We are also considering taking advantage of a host of other existing opportunities including the fibre optic cable to introduce more products such as hybrid mail, track and trace and delivery of e-payments,” he added.
Despite the challenges facing the postal sector, Hussein said that mail still accounts for over 60 percent of their revenue, with an annual turnover of over Sh2.4 billion and the PCK plans to mitigate the problems by investing in modern technology, infrastructure, human resource capacity and security.
“Security now has become an integral aspect of postal operations worldwide and the investment and adoption of security measures in postal administrations has assumed greater importance as organisations endeavour to respond to consumer demand for top quality service,” he declared.
“We are investing in security in our networks countrywide to guarantee safety of items, continuity of operations and reliability of services, while reducing risk to ensure compliance to universal standards,” he added.
Director General of the CCK Francis Wangusi said that postal and courier services have a central role in Kenya’s socio-economic development because for many people in the rural remote locations, it remains the only cost-effective and easily accessible means of communication.
“Provision has been made in the envisaged operational framework of the Universal Access Fund (UAF) to ensure that the country has a vibrant and efficient postal service,” he announced.
“Once the fund is operationalised, it will ensure that postal operators provide affordable, equitable and efficient universal service through the laid down subventions in the proposed fund,” he said.
The UAF was introduced in 2009 under the Kenya Communications (amendment) Act to address issues of limited access and connectivity in rural and perceived uneconomic areas.
Wangusi urged postal and courier services to observe regulations in order to increase effective competition, investment and innovation in the sector.
“This is a matter of concern that emanates from the noted dramatic increase in consumer complaints pertaining to the loss and damage of postal articles and the failure by operators to file their complaints resolution mechanisms and compensation policies with the CCK,” he emphasised.
“I wish to call upon the operators that have not submitted the aforesaid to do so in order to assist the CCK discharge its mandate effectively,” he added.