ECOWAS Commission urges strengthening of cross-border trade through e-commerce
The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is committed to boosting cross-border trade through e-commerce.
Commissioner for Telecommunications and Information Technology Dr. Zouli Bonkoungou stated this on the 27th of November 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria while opening a 2-day regional Workshop on quality of postal services.
Commissioner Bonkoungou told participants that in order for the postal sector to play a role in e-commerce and help stimulate cross-border trade in the sub-region, “postal operators must have the necessary means to achieve and maintain a high level of quality”.
He maintained that the current trend of an increased wave of migration to the use of ICT, to facilitate socio-economic transactions, also influences the expectations of users who now demand higher quality services.
The Commissioner pointed out that it was in recognition of the foregoing that the Commission established a fruitful partnership with the West African Postal Conference (WECAFC) and is collaborating with it, in the implementation of the Master Plan for Postal Services.
Stressing that the importance of the postal sector in West African economies cannot be overemphasized, he said “the Post has an undeniable heritage in terms of communication between citizens and it contributes to the development of our Member States and remains a major element in achieving the vision 2020 of ECOWAS and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Commissioner Bonkoungou noted that in the era of technology, the landscape of the postal sector has also changed while traditional postal services are increasingly being replaced by new and innovative services offered by both postal operators and new entrants to the market through liberalization.
The new reality, he said prompted the development of a Master Plan for Postal Services by the ECOWAS Commission with the aim of repositioning the postal sector in the current economic environment. The Master plan guides the programs, projects and activities of the postal sector undertaken by the ECOWAS Commission.
One of the objectives of the Master Plan for Postal Services, is to strengthen the capacity of national postal operators (NPOs) of ECOWAS Member States to deliver efficient and high quality services in accordance with international standards.
Cognizant of the fact that there can be no development without quality service, the Commissioner pointed out that the ECOWAS Commission expects all postal operators to improve the quality, reliability and efficiency of their services while the workshop offers the opportunity to identify the problems that affect the quality of postal services in the region and to formulate concrete and appropriate proposals as well as recommendations to meet these challenges.
The chair of session Mr. Wakili Saidu informed that the postal sector is one of the fastest growing, with the potential of significantly increasing revenue and improving the economy of ECOWAS member countries.
He said the Postal Service Master Plan (PSMP) was adopted by the regional ministers in charge for a revitalized Postal sector and to ensure that it is able to provide efficient basic postal services to the citizens.
In his remarks, the Post Master General of the Nigerian federation Bisi Adegbuyi admitted that the region needs to provide appropriate tools that will ensure an efficient and quality based exchange of postal items at all levels in terms of physical, digital, electronic or financial postal network.
Bold steps, he maintained, have been taken by the Nigerian Postal Services to restructure its services to meet the challenges of the contemporary times, and bring it at par with global best practices.
The West and Central Africa Regional Coordinator for the Universal Postal Union (UPU) Mr. Salam Sanfo held that the workshop’s theme is fully in line with the objectives of the priority projects in the Regional Development Plan for Africa (RDP).
He hoped for better times after the workshop most African postal companies “have a poor quality services, resulting in poor performance in terms of their results with difficulties and all that, hinders the financing of investments for the modernization of postal infrastructures.”
He informed the gathering that one of the ways by which the UPU had intervened is through the introduction of the Postal Technology Center (CTP), which is already revolutionizing the processing of mailings, among others.