Statement from the SADC Executive Secretary, H. E. Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax on the occasion on the World Post Day

Today, 9th October, 2019 is the World Post Day, marking the 145th anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874. The purpose of the Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people's everyday lives and its contribution to the socio-economic development of countries.

The World Post Day offers an opportunity for promoting new postal products and services, and also generating awareness of the Post's role and activities.

Postal services play a critical role in people' daily lives. Today, the Postal sector is the second largest contributor to financial inclusion in the world, serving 1.5 billion people worldwide and assisting to alleviate poverty. In communities with lower levels of access to digital communication, postal services remain vital for the distribution of information and goods. Post offices and trucks used to deliver mail to outlying areas are also becoming service points to bring digital communication to many more people.

Even in areas and communities with a high level of access to digital communication, postal services are important for distributing goods bought in Internet stores.

In the last couple of years, the world has seen accelerated use of digital communication, making communication faster and instantaneous. With this development, the SADC region needs to pursue strategies that will enable the Post to re-invent itself, innovate and diversify into non-postal products. For instance, there is an urgent need to continue to further computerize postal networks to respond to increasingly sophisticated demands from customers in this age of online and real-time communication.

While we embrace digital communication, we also need not lose sight of the need to ensure that young people have the much-needed literacy skills. Through the Letter-Writing Competition organised annually by UPU where winners are honoured as part of the commemoration of the World Post Day, offers such an excellent opportunity for the young of up to 15 years to sharpen their composition skills and their ability to express their thoughts clearly. Visit www.upu.org for more details.

As we commemorate this year's World Post Day, we call on SADC Member States to reflect on the changing role of postal services, taking cognisant of the fast changing technological developments taking place across the globe. I am happy to report that SADC Member States are participating in the UPU Operational Readiness for E-commerce (ORE) Project, an initiative that will lead to the establishment of an integrated, inclusive and innovative e-commerce platform that will make use of the postal network and products for cross-border logistics, deliveries, returns and payments.

I am also particularly pleased to note that all SADC Member States have committed to launching a money transfer system called PosTransfer on this year's World Post Day. This is commendable and we must all continue to innovate in response to the changing demands of the modern postal world.

Source: Southern African Development Community (SADC)