THE Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, is working with experts and other stakeholders to develop a postal service master plan in ECOWAS member states in order to improve postal services across the region.
Towards this end, a face to face validation meeting on the preliminary report to develop a postal service master plan in the ECOWAS member states was organised in Abuja from January 28 to 29, this year. The objective of the meeting was to facilitate the deployment of universal postal services at affordable prices within the region as well as to improve quality of services such as convenient access to postal services for all and increase efficiency in delivery times.
The meeting had in attendance representatives of postal service organisations across the region, experts within and outside the Commission, the executive secretary of the West African Postal Conference, WAPCO, as well as members from IOS Partners, the consultancy firm, who were commissioned to prepare the new master plan.
In his welcome remarks, Abdulkarim Baba, representative of Nigeria’s Postal Service, who stood in for the postmaster general, expressed his delight to be part of the event, which he described as apt, considering the needs of the people of the region. Baba said postal services were key to West African development, as citizens rely on it to get information and communication across to the villages, towns and cities spread all over the region.
According to him, the development of the master plan would go a long way in ensuring the utilisation of postal infrastructures that are lying fallow across the region. He emphasised that the proper use of postal services and its various infrastructures would enhance the quality of living of the citizens and diversify sources of income for governments in West Africa. He, therefore, reiterated the resolve of the government of Nigeria to partner with the ECOWAS and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of the regional postal service master plan.
Declaring the meeting open, Isaias Barreto Olimpio da Rosa, ECOWAS commissioner for Telecommunications & IT, noted the great achievements and sustained cooperation between all postal administrations in the sub-region in the year 2015. The cooperation led to the launching of the ECOWAS common stamp which serves as proof of good cooperation between the ECOWAS postal administrations in implementing a regional project. Da Rosa said the ECOWAS made history by being the first region in the world where fifteen member states launched a common stamp. According to him, the common stamp project has also fostered a sense of belonging to the same community and regional integration.
The commissioner said that despite the fact that the postal service in the ECOWAS was facing a lot of challenges, efficient postal networks and services were essential for economic growth and social empowerment. Further, he said that the postal sector could play a key role in contributing to the acceleration of the regional integration process, through good use of ICT to offer financial services, public administration services, provision of internet access in remote areas and many others.
Specifically, the commissioner mentioned opportunities that exist for the postal sector to utilise information and communication technologies to revitalise postal services, these include rural community centres set up by post offices that could be used for internet access and communication bringing new dynamism to the remote areas of the community.
Similarly, banking possibilities for all citizens including those in rural and remote areas, especially in the West African context where the majority of the population does not have access to financial services as well as the development of e-commerce by facilitation of the delivery of goods bought online. The commissioner expressed confidence that the postal services could even promote the development of e-commerce, saying it would open new business opportunities.
He, therefore, called on participants to contribute to the preliminary report on the ECOWAS postal services master plan and to exchange ideas on national and regional postal programmes that could be implemented to improve the economic and social benefits of postal services.
As part of the two-day event, participants were expected to be taken through presentations by the ECOWAS Commission, IOS Partners and other experts as well as a review of the 2016-2020 ECOWAS postal services strategy.
— Feb 1, 2016 @ 16:35 GMT