The Information, Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, Joe Mucheru said government, policy makers and international organizations can use postal networks as a platform to design strategies to foster financial inclusion in Africa.
He added that posts are better positioned to bank women, the poor, the less educated and those in the informal sector that are underserved by other financial institutions.
The Universal Postal Union’s 2016 Global Panorama on Postal Financial Inclusion report found that two billion people globally have no access to financial services.
While a GSMA report shows that there were almost five times more postal accounts than mobile money accounts, which stood at 411 million at the end of 2015 worldwide, mobile money accounts are growing more rapidly than postal accounts.
Mucheru also called for increased adoption of e-commerce on the continent to unlock socio-economic transformation.
‘‘E-commerce offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a unique opportunity to access international markets. According to the International Trade Centre, e-commerce was estimated at over $15 trillion for annual business-to-business transactions and well over $1 trillion for annual business-to-consumer trade in 2015,’’ he explained.
He was speaking at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) Administrative Council in Nairobi where member states addressed financial, infrastructural, socio-political and the digital divide- the four key barriers to the growth of e-commerce in Africa.
With the continent’s contribution to the global e-commerce statistics was below two per cent in 2015, more needs to be done to foster the sector’s growth.
Africa is set to benefit from a Universal Postal Union (UPU)project aimed at transforming Post and e-commerce. Financial services and e-commerce have been identified as potential growth areas by the Regional Development Plan for Africa.
UPU Director General Ambassador Bishar Hussein said, “We have noted that Africa is lagging behind in e-commerce business facilitation globally. We wanted to strengthen this link in the UPU e-commerce supply chain and provide an opportunity for the continent to join the rest of the world in this fast growing trade.”
To create a continental-wide postal e-market zone, the Ecom@Africa project will be first launched in Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Tunisia and other countries joining later.
To actualize it, UPU is implementing virtual platforms for e-commerce, smart storage and distribution systems in each of the five regions across Africa.