On Saturday, October 9, 2021, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Post Day under the theme, “Innovate to Recover.” This auspicious day is celebrated every 9th day of October every year.
Uganda is a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations (UN) body responsible for overseeing postal services among UN member states. Established in 1874, UPU is the second oldest international organization, with its headquarters in the Swiss capital, Berne. Uganda has been one of its 192 member states since February 13, 1964.
At the UPU, Uganda’s representation is tiered with the Parent Ministry (Ministry of ICT and National Guidance) in charge of the sector’s policy formulation, The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) as a sector regulator and Uganda Post Limited as the Designated Postal (DP) Operator.
At the regional level, Uganda is a member of the Pan African Postal Union, a specialized institution of the African Union whose core objective is to coordinate all activities to develop postal services on the African continent. In addition, Uganda is also affiliated with the East African Communications Organization (EACO) that was established in 2012 as a regional autonomous organization with an international legal personality to bring together national ICT regulators, operators and service providers (in the telecommunication, broadcasting and postal sub-sectors), among others.
The Post, just like any other communication system, is interdependent on national, regional, and international networks. These memberships align Uganda’s sector to regional and global standards that most operators must comply with for Quality of Service (QoS) certification. Prospects in the sector are to have even the operations of the private postal and courier operators aligned to the same global, regional and national standards.
In line with its regulatory mandate, the Commission has promoted healthy competition in the sector and encouraged innovations leading to quality products and services by postal service operators.
The Commission embraced liberalization of the sector from a single Postal operator (Uganda Post Limited, also known a Posta Uganda) to thirty-four (34) Licensed Postal and Courier operators today. These include one (1) diplomatic, five (5) international, four (4) regional, twenty (20) domestic, and two (2) intercity licensed courier operators. Uganda is linked to the global postal and courier networks through these providers, which have given consumers a diversity of postal services.
UCC has further promoted growth and innovation in the sector through:
- Regular service assessment to ensure that the services delivered are in line with the set national standards
- Conducting network verification checks to ensure that postal services are accessible to Ugandans through various outlets and agents
- Empowerment of consumers to enable them to make informed choices and management of consumer complaints whenever consumers are not satisfied with the remedies provided by their service providers.
During this commemoration, we cannot forget to underscore the role of the Postal Sector in the COVID-19 national response and the support rendered to Ugandans during the lockdowns through facilitating the efficient delivery of goods and services that included home supplies, vaccines, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), among others.
The challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak triggered innovation platforms and increased the number of online purchasers. These were majorly embraced during the lockdown as customers ordered items online and the courier operators endeavoured to deliver door-to-door. These online platforms also significantly contributed to the reduction of COVID-19 infections in the country since there was less human-to-human contact during the purchasing processes.
Performance of the Sector
- By the end of June 2021, domestic mail volumes had grown to 66,215, up from 37,151 at the end of March 2021, translating into a 78% growth.
- This growth is majorly attributed to the emergence of e-posta service and growing domestic fleets owned by Uganda Post Limited and other courier operators such as DHL, Godel Uganda Ltd, SGA (Big Orange), Nation Couriers Ltd, SM Cathan Logistics and Sail Global Corporation.
- On the other hand, Expedited Mail Services (EMS) outbound international mail increased by 20% between March and June 2021, while EMS inbound international mail volumes grew by 25% during the same period.
- Whereas Uganda Post Limited used to rely on private commercial buses for last-mile delivery to all Departmental Post Offices (DPOs) across the country, COVID-19 related restrictions prompted the national operator to boost its domestic mail delivery operations with a new fleet of mail delivery vans.
- Posta Uganda also installed a mail surveillance system, which enabled it to attain zero tolerance for mail theft, thus leading to the restoration of customer confidence and an improved image of Postal services in the country.
- Also, COVID-19 related challenges led Posta Uganda to introduce an innovative business strategy dubbed virtual Post Office Box. The virtual box, an electronic postal address that allows you to access your mail 24/7 using a smartphone or any other device, was launched in February 2021 to boost the traditional physical mailbox in different postal locations. This service enables customers to receive a notification upon receipt of physical mail, which permits track and trace services and physical addressing using the Global Positioning System (GPS). This approach to business and service delivery improves efficiency and offers hope for the future of the postal sector in this digital-driven economy.
How Uganda benefits from membership to the Universal Postal Union and other regional postal bodies
- As a Union Member, Uganda is responsible for ensuring harmonized positions on issues of common interest for the African region at the global level.
- Membership to the UPU empowers Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the country’s representing agency, to align Uganda’s Postal sector to global postal benchmarks through participation in expert sector discussions.
- Active participation creates opportunities for Ugandans within international and regional sector bodies and the UPU Secretariat, which enhances Uganda’s global standing as a nation.
- Active participation ensures that Uganda keeps abreast of the developments in the postal sector, global trends, new postal products and services, and international postal standards and services.
- As a UPU member, Uganda gets an opportunity to network and learn or share best practices in terms of ongoing postal programmes and projects in other countries.
- Uganda’s membership and active participation through UCC enhance opportunities for sector project funding with development partners and technical support from international industry experts.
- Membership gives Uganda an opportunity to benefit from the Union’s capacity building programmes.
In line with this year’s theme, it is evident that the postal sector has shown remarkable resilience by leveraging innovation to recover and stay relevant in the face of changing technology and the devastating effects of COVID-19.
I, therefore, take this opportunity to call upon all stakeholders to continue supporting the national recovery and prosperity of the postal sector as one of the pillars in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.
Happy World Post Day!
Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo
AG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
UGANDA COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (UCC)