The post: Helping to bridge digital gap
Every year on October 9, the date in which the Universal Postal Union (UPU) was founded in 1874, the postal community celebrates the World Post Day. Not only does it represent an excellent opportunity to familiarize government authorities, postal employees and the public with the aims and activities of the UPU, but it also helps to make the public aware of the important role of postal services in the worldwide communications market.
Many Postal administrations will use today’s occasion to take stock of their past accomplishments with a view to drawing new strategies for the future. With the huge surge in new information and communication technologies transforming our world, many are wondering whether the Post really do have a future. Faced with numerous challenges and competitions, authorities of most Postal administrations have taken closer look at their activities with the objective of innovating and developing new products and services to meet customers’ demands.
Historically, postal service has been a trusted provider of secure communication, providing a core social and economic infrastructure which facilitates payment and delivery of services between identified senders and receivers. This role of trusted provider has facilitated all aspects of commercial, social, educational and cultural development of many countries in the world.
Although the emergence of new forms of information and communication technologies like e-mail and text messaging are reducing the volume of messages sent through the Post office, yet they provide opportunities for the Post. Physical products ordered through the Internet can only be delivered the postal network. Interestingly, many Postal administrations have come to realize the benefits of leveraging modern technology to improve the quality of their services to meet customers growing needs.
While many administrations are automating and mechanizing mail processing and delivery to increase efficiency and speed, others are computerizing their counter services, introducing new security measures to enhance tracing and tracking of mail. Many more have introduced value-added products and services like Hybrid mail and e-post that combine electronic and hard copy delivery, thereby making it possible for customers to send letters and documents electronically through the Post office for physical delivery to their final destinations.
With huge challenges facing many countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals’ target of connecting all villages, towns and cities by the Year 2015, the Postal sector is ideally better placed to make it a reality.
With well over 900,000 postal outlets across the globe and a labour force of about seven million men and women, Postal administrations in many countries are committed to working closely with government agencies, the private sector and non governmental organizations to bring the information society within the reach of millions of people who lack access to the Internet and other forms of information and communication technologies.
On this year’s World Post Day, let us remember the very relevance and valuable role which the Post plays in the day to day lives of billions of people and businesses, not only as a means of communication, but also as an essential driver of economic growth.
Ejiofor is Head, Media Relations, NIPOST Headquarters, Abuja.
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