African pilot group vows action on e-commerce

09.05.2016 - Posts from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal are among several African operators that have committed to developing national action plans targeting e-commerce growth after a recent workshop at the UPU’s International Bureau.

Postal operations managers at a workshop attended by African nations

The workshop resulted in the creation of a pilot group that will act as the basis for developing e-commerce projects across the region during the 2017-2020 cycle. E-commerce is a global priority under the draft Istanbul World Postal Strategy, as well as a top priority for Africa. South Africa and Gabon will also join the pilot group.

Postal operations managers met with the African regional coordinators and UPU postal experts from 2-4 May for a workshop on e-commerce development. Participants learned about how to further their e-commerce offerings and discussed key barriers to implementing services in the African region.

Common goals

The workshop’s final session saw participants identify areas of improvement for their country. Countries agreed that designated operators could do more to build relationships with key e-commerce players.

Kenya suggested working more closely with its information and communications technology (ICT) authority to ensure its post offices have the necessary connectivity to access the UPU’s products and services. Ethiopia said it would work with the government to ensure the country has all the necessary legal frameworks in place to offer quality e-commerce services.

Senegal and Nigeria, which are in the midst of opening e-commerce web shops, agreed that partnerships will play a role in their future development. NiPost has already created a committee with Nigeria’s ICT authority and financial services providers, while Senegal suggested its Post team up with web developers to start designing their online platform.

All noted the importance of working more closely with their customs and transit authorities to ensure quality of service. They agreed to work with customs to use the UPU’s Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messages to exchange advance information about shipments.

“E-commerce is a major issue today and the Posts cannot afford to ignore it. I can assure you that, when we get back to Nigeria, or Ethiopia, Kenya or Senegal, we are going to see to it that in the next few months we take opportunity of the market,” said Umaru Kaboji Musa, NiPost head of logistics. “[This workshop] has been a great experience.”

Moving forward

Following the recent seminar at the International Bureau, the pilot group will create e-commerce action plans for their respective countries, including a situation analysis, target key performance indicators and project proposals.

“We are all now loaded with a lot of information and appreciate the gap between where we are and where we are supposed to be for us to benefit from this opportunity in e-commerce,” remarked Gladys Rufaro Mutyavaviri, UPU Regional Coordinator for Southern and East Africa.

Mutyavaviri recommended that countries consider legal frameworks, physical services, financial services, value chain issues or marketing gaps in their situation analyses. She also urged them to make their goals specific.

Participants have agreed to submit their action plans by the end of May. Two UPU regional coordinators - Mutyavaviri and Salam Sanfo, UPU Regional Coordinator for West and Central Africa - will follow up with the countries on a quarterly basis.

eCommerce, Africa


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